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Shots Ring Out in Two Santa Monica Neighborhoods

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

September 13 -- Gun shots rang out on two consecutive nights late last week, first in the Pico Neighborhood, then in Ocean Park, although no one appears to have been injured, police said.

On Thursday night, shots were reportedly fired during a car chase through two Santa Monica neighborhoods, as three Pico residents -- two adults and a youth -- attempted to flee an attack police describe as “gang related.”

The following night, police found shell casings on the 700 block of Pacific Street after receiving reports of shots fired at around 11 p.m. Friday, said Lt. Frank Fabrega, the police department spokesman. Witnesses described the suspects as male Hispanic “gang types,” Fabrega said.

The incidents come less than three weeks after two Pico neighborhood youths received non-life threatening injuries in a shooting on the 1800 block of 20th, near the parking lot where Thursday’s incident erupted, police said.

At around 11 p.m., police responded to 20th Street and Pico Boulevard after reports of shots fired, Fabrega said. While in route, an officer was flagged down at Lincoln and Pico boulevards by one of the victims.

The victim told police that the shooting suspect -- who was seen driving a brown late 1980s or early 1990s Honda -- said something to him and his friends at a parking lot near Santa Monica College at 20th Street and Pico Boulevard, then drove away, Fabrega said.

When the victim later saw the suspect’s vehicle at 19th Street and Delaware Avenue, the suspect reportedly yelled “a slogan of a local Santa Monica gang,” according to police. The victims then heard a shot fired.

A car chase ensued southbound on 20th Street and west on Ocean Park Boulevard to Lincoln, the victims told police.

During the chase, the victims claimed they heard additional shots, Fabrega said.

The suspect is described as a 22-year-old male Hispanic, 5’5” tall, stocky and weighing 160 to 180 pounds, police said. He has short black hair and a “slight moustache” and was wearing an unbuttoned black short-sleeve shirt with white patches on the chest and right sleeve over a white t-shirt. He was also wearing black baggy pants and black shoes.

On August 22, two Santa Monica youngsters were shot in the Pico Neighborhood by suspects who fled in a dark van with dark tinted windows, police said. The victims -- a black and a Latino juvenile -- were taken to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

While concerned about the recent shootings, Santa Monica police say they are not planning additional patrols in the Pico Neighborhood.

“There’s been a reduction in the violence until just recently,” Fabrega said. “We already heavily patrol the Pico Neighborhood and have officers doing overtime.”

City officials are expecting a progress report near the end of the month outlining steps to combat gang violence, which was at the root of a gruesome double homicide at a private party in Ocean Park in early March.

The report comes five months after the City and State Sen. Sheila J. Kuehl held the second of two workshops on gang violence, where civic leaders vowed to create more jobs and opportunities for Santa Monica’s youth, especially for minorities in the gang-prone Pico neighborhood.

“Of course we are concerned about the recent violence, as we always are,” City Manager Susan McCarthy said Monday. “The plan remains the same, though. These are not short term fixes.”

Anyone with information about Tuesday’s incident should call the Robbery/Homicide Unit of the Santa Monica Police Department at 310.458.8451 or the Watch Commander’s Office at 310-458-8426.

Callers who wish to provide anonymous information may also call the We-Tip national hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (782-7463). Callers with information that leads to an arrest and conviction become eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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