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An arraignment has been postponed until June 2 for the three suspects charged in a series of murders and robberies in the Wilshire, Olympic and Koreatown areas, including the murder of 30-year-old MTV coordinator Gabriel Ben-Meir, who shot and killed on May 8 outside his apartment south of the Miracle Mile.
The suspects, Destiny Young, 29; Jabbar Vincent Thomas, 26; and Richard Edward Anderson, 33, were arrested on May 11 after a patrol officer from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division recognized two people fitting the description of the suspects in a vehicle that had allegedly been used in the robberies. Officers pulled the vehicle over in the 4000 block of Washington Blvd., and Thomas and Young were taken into custody without incident. After questioning the suspects, police determined Anderson was also involved in the robberies, and he was arrested at an undisclosed location in South Los Angeles later on May 11.
Det. Frank Carrillo, head of the Homicide Unit for the Wilshire Division, credited the patrol officer, Spiro Roditis, for locating the suspects and providing investigators with a break in the case. A shotgun believed to have been used in the robberies and murders of Ben-Meir and another victim, Marcelo Aragon, has been recovered. Carrillo said the use of a shotgun in the murders, and “some things that were revealed in the investigation” linked the suspects to both the murders and robberies.
“The investigation is still ongoing and there is a lot of work that still needs to be done, but we are confident that the people we were looking for are in custody,” Carrillo said. “Certainly, with the severity of the crimes, we needed to put these people behind bars as quickly a possible.”
Investigators said Ben-Meir was shot in the back of the head during a robbery, and that his wallet was stolen. Witnesses told police that they heard a shot around 1 a.m., but did not call police. Ben-Meir’s body was found around 6:30 a.m. by a resident who was walking his dog in the 5600 block of Packard Street, between Spaulding and Stanley Avenues.
The three suspects also allegedly committed a series of at least nine street and business robberies that began on May 1. Multiple robberies attributed to the suspects occurred overnight between May 10 and 11, and personnel from the LAPD’s Wilshire, Olympic and Southwest Divisions went on tactical alert in an effort to catch the suspects. Aragon was shot and killed during an alleged street robbery on April 30 in the 2700 block of W. 12th Street in the Pico-Union area.
Police said Thomas and Anderson have extensive criminal histories. Thomas is an alleged gang member from South Los Angeles who was released from prison last December after serving time for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Anderson, of Reseda, has prior drug convictions, while Young, of Los Angeles, reportedly did not have any previous felony arrests.
Carrillo said Young and Thomas were allegedly involved in the robberies and murders, but declined to offer specifics as to what role each suspect played. Anderson has been charged in connection with the robberies, but has not been linked to the murders. Carrillo said the shotgun that was recovered is being tested in an attempt to link it to the murders of Ben-Meir and Aragon. More charges may be filed at a later date, Carrillo added.
Jane Robison, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said the three suspects have been charged separately but will appear in court together. The original arraignment date was postponed from May 13 to June 2 to allow more time for the ongoing investigation.
Young has been charged with two counts of murder, with the special circumstances of murder during a robbery and multiple murders, and six counts of second-degree robbery. Thomas was charged with three counts of second-degree robbery, and one count of a felon being in possession of a firearm. Anderson is facing six counts of second-degree robbery.
Bail has been set at $725,000 for Anderson and $340,000 for Thomas, while Young is being held without bail.
Robison said the District Attorney’s Office will decide later whether to seek the death penalty or life in prison in the case against Young.
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