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Addition to Most Wanted List Announced

Nr07094 Los Angeles:  With the capture of LAPD's first Top-10 Most Wanted gang member on February 21, Police Chief William Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced today the name of the next local gang member to be added to the list.

Fernando Araujo, 19, is a member of the Canoga Park Alabama (CPA) criminal street gang in the San Fernando Valley.  An arrest warrant for attempted murder was issued for him after he was implicated in the August 26, 2006, drive-by shooting of an 18-year-old college football player, who was standing outside a youth center near Deering Avenue and Gault Street.  Araujo is also implicated in a second drive-by shooting from August, and is wanted as a material witness in a third shooting.

Detectives believe Araujo was one of several gang members in the car that sped by and fired.  Detectives believe the gang targeted the football player because he is Black.  Witnesses reported hearing a racial slur uttered as the shooting took place.  The CPA gang has garnered a reputation for targeting its victims based on race. Ten shootings in the last six months have been attributed to the CPA gang; all ten victims were Black.  Six arrests have been made in four of the shootings.

The cars used in the August 26 drive-by shooting were a 1990s, white Mazda and a tan Ford Explorer.

Araujo is short and thin, with black hair and brown eyes.  The bail on the warrant was set at $3,050,000.

Members of the community are encouraged to call their local police station or the LAPD's toll-free number with information about local gang activity.  The City Council has authorized up to $50,000 as a reward for information that leads to the capture of any of the Top-10 Most Wanted Gang Members.  The LAPD's toll-free number is 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855).

Persons with information about Fernando Araujo may contact the West Valley Area gang unit at 818-374-7870.  Callers may remain anonymous.

Top-10 Gangster Arrested in Guatemala

Nr07093 Los Angeles:  The Los Angeles Police Department announced the capture of its first Top-10 wanted gang member, 22-year-old Angel Zevallos.  He was arrested in Guatemala on February 21, and flown to Houston, Texas, the next day. Zevallos has waived an extradition hearing in Houston, and detectives from the Hollywood Police Station will pick up Zevallos on Thursday and fly him back to Los Angeles.

"This capture was truly a team effort," said Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton.  "It was impressive to see how quickly this all came together.  Interpol inspectors, deputy US marshals in the US embassy in Guatemala, and LAPD detectives worked as if they were across the room, rather than across a continent."

Chief Inspector Wilfredo Ramos, the Director of Interpol in Guatemala, was tipped off to Zevallos' presence during an unrelated kidnapping investigation.  A local resident mentioned a suspicious, tattooed man who had moved into the neighborhood in Guatemala City and was bragging about a murder in Los Angeles.  The informant discreetly supplied Zevallos' name and two photographs taken with a cell phone.

Inspector Ramos verified the suspicious man was Zevallos, a Peruvian national, who was in Guatemala illegally since December 2006. Interopol contacted LAPD's Foreign Prosecution Liaison Unit (FPLU) and discovered Zevallos was wanted for shooting a security guard at the Buddha Bar in Hollywood on February 9, 2006.  The guard had survived, but has never fully recovered from the rifle shot.

Los Angeles detectives coordinated Zevallos' capture with Interpol and the Regional Security Officer (RSO) at the US Embassy in Guatemala City on February 19.  The RSO is a deputy US Marshal who maintains close contacts with LAPD. 

Deputy US marshals escorted Zevallos on a flight from Guatemala to Houston, Texas, on February 21, 2007.  Special Agents from the US State Department's Diplomatic Security Service also helped in Zevallos' transfer from Guatemala to the USA.

Detectives believe Zevallos escaped to Guatemala by way of Las Vegas, Nevada, after the Hollywood shooting.  Detectives traced Zevallos to Las Vegas and the local FBI office assisted in looking for him, but the trail went cold until the call came from Interpol last week.

The replacement on the Top-10 Most Wanted gang member list will be announced on a separate news release.

Gang Member Shot Aiming Handgun at Police

Los Angeles:  A known gang member running from police was shot and killed as he aimed a loaded handgun at officers Saturday evening.

On February 24, 2007, at approximately 7:35 p.m., police assigned to Metropolitan Division were working a crime suppression detail in Newton Area.  The officers were driving an unmarked police vehicle.  At approximately 7:35 p.m., Police Officer III Mark Blizzard and his partner conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle near 36th Street and Broadway.  As soon as the vehicle stopped, one of its three occupants, Marcellus Wright, 25, jumped out and ran east.  The other two occupants sped away.  Officer Blizzard and his partner remained in the police car and followed Wright as he ran west on 36th Place, until he stopped and ran back in the officers' direction. 

Wright pulled a handgun from his waistband and aimed at police.  Officer Blizzard discharged his weapon leading to Wright's demise.  No officers were injured in the incident.  Wright's loaded .30-caliber semi-automatic pistol was recovered at the scene.

Officer Blizzard is 42 years old and has been with the department for 16 years.

Force Investigation Division personnel responded to the scene and are investigating the officer-involved shooting.

Questions may be directed to Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.

Barricaded Gang Member Arrested After Aiming Firearm at Police Officers

Los Angeles: A paroled gang member with a history of committing violent crimes was arrested Sunday night after refusing to comply with police instructions, brandishing a handgun at officers and attempting to elude arrest by hiding in a residential attic.  He ultimately surrendered to SWAT officers after a 12-hour stand off.

On February 25, 2007, at approximately 11:25 a.m., police from Van Nuys Area station were dispatched to a man with a gun call at a residence in the 7500 block of North Sepulveda Boulevard.  Officers had been summoned to the same location earlier in the morning for an assault with a deadly weapon call, but the suspect was gone when they arrived. When officers returned a second time, they saw the suspect, Gonzalo Escoto, 34, in a vehicle.  Officers followed Escoto as he parked near his residence and fled on foot.  Police then saw Escoto remove a handgun from his waistband and point it in the officers' direction. Police Officer III Paul Williams, 40, 17 years with the department, fired his weapon.  The suspect was not struck.

Escoto ran into the house and barricaded himself, refusing to come out.  Police officers learned that Escoto was still armed.  LAPD SWAT was summoned.  During the course of the day, Escoto repeatedly refused to surrender despite the deployment by police of over 100 canisters of tear gas into the house.  SWAT officers eventually entered the residence and located Escoto in the attic.  He was taken into custody without further incident.  The suspect's weapon was not recovered.

Escoto is a confirmed gang member and parolee.  He was previously deported for violent crimes and returned to the United States illegally.  When taken into custody, he was under the influence of narcotics and alcohol.  Subsequent to his arrest, he was transported to Valley Presbyterian Hospital as a precaution and later released to police custody.

Escoto was charged for assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.

Force Investigation Division personnel responded to the scene and are investigating both the officer-involved shooting and the assault with a deadly weapon on the officers.

Questions may be directed to Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.

Man Dies in Drive-By

Los Angeles: :  Los Angeles police detectives are asking for the public’s help for information in the shooting death of a Spurgeon McClendon, 19, in the area of 28th Street and Vermont Avenue in Exposition Park, early Sunday Morning.

On February 25, 2007, at about 1:55 AM, McClendon was a passenger in the front seat of the vehicle being driven by his friend.  The two men were in the area of 28th Street and Vermont Avenue when four suspects in a four-door vehicle began following them. A suspect inside that car fired multiple gunshots at the pair, striking McClendon.

He was taken to a local hospital by LAFD Paramedics, but later died from his injuries.

Southwest Homicide Detectives Robert Lait and Stacey Szymkowiak are assigned to the investigation.  Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call the Southwest Homicide Detectives at 213-485-2418.  On weekends and during off-hours, call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855).

Man Shot and Killed While Talking to Friends

Los Angeles: Los Angeles police detectives are asking for the public's help in finding any witnesses who may have seen the shooting death of a man in the 14400 block of Kittridge Street in Van Nuys on Sunday evening.

On February 25, 2007, at about 1130 p.m., Mario Garcia Chirinos, a 20-year-old resident of Los Angeles was shot and killed while talking to some friends.  Mario was approached by several male Hispanics who asked him where he was from.  One of the suspects, armed with a handgun, fired several shots at Mario striking him on the chest. Mario's friends drove him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead from his wounds.

The motive for the shooting appears to be gang-related.

Anyone with information is asked to call Van Nuys Detectives at 818-374-0040.  On weekends and during off-hours, call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855).

Sexual Assault Suspects Sought

Los Angeles: Los Angeles detectives are asking the public's help in identifying two Kidnap/attempt rape suspects involved in two separate crimes.

The first kidnap/sexual assault occurred on January 13, 2007, at around 10:30 p.m. The victim was walking on Tampa Avenue at Hart Street when the suspect, driving a white pick-up drove up to her and offered her a ride home. She accepted and got in the truck. Instead of taking her home, he drove her to a secluded area and sexually assaulted her. He is described as a white man, between 40 to 45-years-old clean-shaven with black shoulder length hair, bald on top and brown eyes. He's 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds.

The second incident occurred on February 19, 2007 at about 6:45 a.m., on Hart Street and Independence Avenue. The victim was walking when she was approached by a man driving a 1990-1992, 4 door maroon sedan. He opened the passenger side door and asked the victim for direction. As the victim got closer, he pulled her into the car and drove away. The victim fought off the suspect and escaped. The suspect is a 28-year-old Hispanic man with brown hair, brown eyes and big ears. He is about 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds.

Composites of the suspects can be seen by clicking on the links below. Anyone who recognizes these men should call West Valley Sex Crimes Unit Detective Kathryn Del Vecchio at 818-374-7794, Detective Lawrence Concepcion at 818-374-7793 or Detective Ron Robbins at 818-374-7812. On weekends call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855).

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Man Pushing Shopping Cart Killed

Los Angeles: A 38-year-old man died after being beaten over the head with a steering wheel club during a robbery in South Los Angeles yesterday afternoon in the 6800 block of South Vermont Avenue.

According to investigators, Arturo Ramirez and his wife were pushing a cart home full of groceries when two Black men walked up from behind and demanded money.   During the confrontation, one of the men brutally attacked Ramirez with the club.  When the victim fell to the ground, the robbers took his wallet and backpack and got into a royal blue sedan getaway car driven by a third male Black suspect. 

Police have a few leads and are asking for the public's help to capture the suspects.          

Anyone with information is asked to call 77th Street homicide detectives Armando Bernal or David Craig at  213-485-1383.  On weekends and during off-hours, call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855).

Car Thief Killed

Los Angeles: On February 21, at approximately 10:15 a.m., a fatal traffic collision occurred on 21st Street West of Cabrillo Avenue in San Pedro.

Julio Jauregui, 23, a resident of San Pedro was driving a stolen Ford Explorer at a high rate of speed when he lost control and collided with a parked car. The impact caused the Explorer to roll onto the front of the parked car.

Jauregui was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives learned that the car Jauregui was driving had been reported stolen on December 19, 2006, from the City of Lomita.   

For more information please contact South Traffic Detective Jim Render at 323-290-6063.  After hours please contact the toll-free 24-hour anonymous tip line at 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855).

COMPSTAT Citywide Profile

Crime Statistics February 17, 2007

                 2007*          2006*           % Chg

Homicide                                  41               60             - 32%
Rape                                        84              118              -29%
Robbery                                1828            1922               -5%
Agg Assaults **                      1593            1768             -10%
Total Violent Crimes           3,546          3,868              -8%


Burglary                                2,623               2,702           -3%
Auto Theft                            3,236               3,232            0%
BTFV                                     4,390               4,049            8%
Personal/Other Theft            3,258               3,636           -10%
Total Property Crimes       13,507            13,619           -1%
Total Part I Crimes            17,053            17,487           -2%

* Both 2007 and 2006 crime categories represent Year-To-Date figures.  The 2006 figures are not annual totals. 

** Prior to 2005, Aggravated Assaults included Child/Spousal Simple Assaults