Investigators have stepped up efforts to locate and arrest a suspect dubbed the “Western Bandit”, who is believed to have committed at least nine robberies from Hollywood to South Los Angeles. The suspect is also believed to have murdered a transgender woman in Hollywood on Nov. 17, 2011, and is likely responsible for a robbery and attempted murder in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park the same day.
Detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Olympic Division are leading the investigation. Lt. John Radke said the suspect is considered armed and dangerous, and has shot at victims multiple times.
“There were some robberies and the murder last year, so we definitely want to get the information out there,” Radke said. “They stopped for a while, but then they started up again.”
Det. Luis Corona, a lead investigator on the case, said the suspect generally targets individuals in or near parked vehicles near the Western Avenue corridor. The spree began last year when the suspect allegedly shot and killed Nathan Henry Vickers at approximately 10 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2011, in the 6100 block of Lexington Ave. Vickers, who went by the name Cassidy, was reportedly standing near a vehicle when someone inside fired several shots and drove away.
The same suspect is believed to have struck approximately 30 minutes later in Plummer Park. In that incident, he reportedly approached a transgender woman who was walking in the park and demanded her purse. When the victim refused, the suspect pulled out a gun and shot at the victim, who ran away. The victim was not struck, and the suspect fled before sheriff’s deputies arrived.
Corona said the “Western Bandit” likely struck once more in late 2011 in a robbery that occurred near 7th Street and Kingsley Drive. He would not provide specific details, but said the suspect stole a purse, then shot at the victim and missed before fleeing. The incidents then stopped for several months until last August. Since then, the “Western Bandit” is tied to six additional robberies, including one incident on Sept. 27 in South Los Angeles in which he shot at a victim during a robbery, and another robbery in South L.A. that occurred on Oct. 10.
“Since the shooting and murder last year, we have been working the case non-stop,” Corona said. “He went away and then came back. We’re not sure why. Maybe he was in custody on another charge and then got out. We definitely want to get any information we can that will help us arrest him.”
Investigators have released a sketch of the suspect. He is described as being African American, 35 to 45 years old, and five-feet-nine-inches to six-feet-tall. He has a stocky build, usually wears dark clothing and is armed with a handgun.
Anyone with information is asked to contact robbery detectives at the LAPD’s Olympic Division at (213)382-6628 or (213)382-9102. During weekends and off-hours, call the LAPD’s 24-hour hotline at (877)ASKLAPD.
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