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Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have reopened a 16-year-old case involving two women who were shot in West Hollywood after one of the victims died in January and the coroner’s office ruled the death a homicide.
The incident occurred on July 11, 1994 near the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sweetzer Avenue. The two women, identified as Lisa LaPierre and Samantha Holcomb, were sitting in a vehicle parked on Sweetzer Avenue just south of Santa Monica Boulevard around 2:00am when an unknown assailant approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, pulled out a handgun and fired it into the vehicle. The bullet passed through LaPierre’s neck and struck Holcomb in the leg. Both women were taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Holcomb was not seriously injured and was treated and released. LaPierre suffered critical injuries, but also survived for 16 years until she died on January 18 at the age of 42 at Torrance Memorial Hospital.
Capt. John Kades, with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, said an autopsy was conducted on February 2, and while the exact cause of death is still pending the return of toxicology reports, officials believe the gunshot wound was a contributing factor in her death.
“We are treating this death as a homicide, because we feel that if this gunshot wound contributed to her death in any way, it is a homicide,” Kades said. “Even though it happened 16 years ago, we treat it as if it just happened.”
Kades had no further information about LaPierre’s condition leading up to her death. He added that it would take six to eight weeks for test results from the autopsy to come back.
According to Sgt. Shawn McCarthy, with the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, detectives are still in the preliminary stages of their investigation. Little is known about the suspect other than he was a man, and no description was available. Lt. Lawrence Delmese, with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, said he also did not have details about the initial investigation, but added that it was likely an unsolved case.
News reports at the time of the shooting indicated sheriff’s investigators believed it occurred during a robbery, and were looking into whether the incident was connected with another hold-up that occurred on July 2, 1994 in the 8500 block of Sunset Boulevard, when a gunman approached a victim sitting in a car and demanded cash and car keys. The victim was not injured.
McCarthy said that because the incident occurred many years ago, detectives have a lot of work to do, and are still acquiring the initial reports. He added however, that it is not uncommon for detectives to begin an investigation years later when a victim dies.
“I can tell you from experience, it’s not surprising that the coroner ruled that the assault that took place in 1994 was a contributing factor in her death because of the severity of her injuries. You have to ask, “If the assault didn’t take place, would she have died?’ It is clearly a causable factor,” McCarthy added. “Now we have to begin the long process of putting together the pieces to determine who is responsible.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s homicide bureau at (323)890-5500.
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