Blame booze and machismo for recent violence near the Venice boardwalk

By Joe Piasecki

Venice residents are a little freaked out that there have been two shootings on Windward Avenue near the boardwalk just eight days apart, and understandably so. But look past the flyby TV coverage and this isn’t a crime spree, but a pair of unrelated personal conflicts taken to unfortunate extremes.

“These aren’t like drive-bys or random acts of violence,” explains Lt. Randy Goddard, detective commanding officer of the LAPD’s Pacific Division. “These are individuals coming into the area getting into altercations with each other over nothing. It’s ridiculous. It’s sad.”

Goddard tells The Argonaut that the March 7 shooting began with a drunken argument inside Surfside Venice, where the soon-to-be victim was under the influence of alcohol and “not saying the kindest things to the bartender.” The suspect, also drinking, didn’t like that. Words escalated into a physical fight, and bar security separated and removed the two men. Once outside, however, they resumed the argument — until the suspect pulled a semi-automatic handgun from his waistband and shot around a security guard separating the two men. Gunfire struck the victim multiple times, but he remains in stable condition.

The confrontation started around 10 p.m., and by 4:30 p.m. the next day police had identified and arrested the alleged gunman: a 46-year-old who arrived from out of state about a year ago and had no criminal history or permanent address in California.

The March 15 shooting on Windward also happened around 10 p.m., but under a different set of circumstances, Goddard explained. This time two groups went at it with a skateboard and — again — a semi-automatic handgun after a running beef that spanned about 12 hours.

The “suspect group” and the “victim group” first came into contact around 10 a.m., when one group got offended by a look or something the other group said. A couple hours later they all met again, resulting in stare-downs and verbal taunts.

“This leads to a final incident at 9:55 p.m. in which the suspects seek out the group with the victim and they meet at Windward and Pacific [avenues], where some words are exchanged and at one point one of the victims hits the suspect with a skateboard,” Goddard says. “The suspect pulls out a semi-automatic handgun and fires one round at the primary aggressor [the guy who swung the skateboard], but hits one of [the skateboard swinger’s] associates in the arm. Once that happened, the suspects jumped into the vehicle and fled the area.”

As of this writing, detectives are “hot on some really good leads” thanks to video surveillance footage, says Goddard. Security cameras also helped identify the March 7 shooter.

What to make of all this?

“If somebody is enticing you to fight, the right thing to do is call police. Don’t get baited into a fight, because you never know who you’re dealing with,” Goddard says.

City Breaks Ground on Via Dolce Park

Word came late Tuesday from L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin’s office that the city will soon convert a vacant lot in the Silver Strand into a brand new public park.

The future Via Dolce Park spans about 6,300 square feet at 3507 Via Dolce, east of the Grand Canal along the western boundary of Marina del Rey. Plans call for a children’s play area, exercise equipment, picnic tables and a bike rack.

A groundbreaking ceremony happens from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Friday (March 23), with alternative transportation encouraged. The neighborhood may be getting a new park, but there’s still hardly anywhere to park a car.