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Five people were shot during two separate incidents in Hollywood early Monday morning as approximately 150,000 people celebrated Halloween on and around Hollywood Boulevard.
Lt. Robert Binder, with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Division, said 37 arrests were made during the Halloween celebration on Sunday night and Monday morning. Although there is no official Halloween event in Hollywood, thousands of people flock to the area to walk the streets and patronize the nightclubs. The LAPD deployed an additional 300 officers to the area during the festivities, and Binder credited the deployment for resulting in the quick arrests of the suspects involved in the shootings. He said both incidents were gang-related, and began after arguments erupted between groups of rival gang members walking the streets.
The first shooting occurred around 1:30 a.m. on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard, just east of Cahuenga Boulevard. An argument erupted outside a nightclub called Loaded, and one suspect pulled out a handgun and fired into the crowd. According to Binder, bicycle officers nearby heard the shots and were at the scene in seconds. One person was shot and was taken to the hospital in stable condition. The victim is expected to survive, but Binder said he did not have any additional information.
Officers arrested two suspects 10 minutes later approximately one block away at Yucca Street and Ivar Avenue. They were identified as James Simpson, 28, and Brandon Morrison, 19. Both are gang members from South Los Angeles, Binder said. They were both booked for assault with a deadly weapon, as well as gang enhancement charges including the use of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
“The person who was shot appears to be an innocent bystander,” Binder added. “We believe we have the suspects and weapon in custody that was used in the shooting.”
Binder said just after the shooting, officials received a report that one of the suspects ran back into the nightclub, and officers had to remove approximately 150 people inside as part of the search. No suspect was found inside the nightclub, but officers did find another handgun that had been discarded.
Officers were still investigating the first shooting around 3 a.m. when they heard five to six shots being fired on the south side of Hollywood Boulevard. Officers chased the gunman on foot until he fell near Hollywood Boulevard and Cosmo Street. Lavontae Brown, 18 was arrested and later booked for one count of attempted murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, as well as gang enhancement charges. Four people were struck by the gunfire, including two who were determined to be rival gang members, and two who were bystanders. All four of those victims were transported to local hospitals. Three remain hospitalized in stable condition and are expected to survive. One received only minor injuries and was treated and released.
Binder said problems with large crowds are nothing new on Hollywood Boulevard during Halloween, but added that this year more gang members were present. No shootings or major violent crimes had occurred during the last two years, he said, and the incidents this year will prompt officials to re-examine their deployment and tactics.
“There was different feeling with the crowd,” Binder added. “There were less celebrants and party-goers and more groups of young males who appeared to be gang member-types. With both violent crimes, there were officers present within feet of each case. It is difficult to prevent something like that unless you lock the whole boulevard down and put everyone through metal detectors. We were very busy on Saturday night as well, but we didn’t have any major incidents then. We will just have to look at the way things occurred and plan accordingly next time.”
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