Sunday, April 4, 2010

Four shot to Death near L.A.

Drugs?  Gangs?  Bad business deal?

Four killed in Valley Village restaurant

Two others are wounded during late afternoon attack at Mediterranean eatery
Daily News- Los Angeles
VALLEY VILLAGE - Four people were killed and two others wounded in a shooting at a Valley Village cafe Saturday, police said.

The shooting took place at the Hot Spot Cafe on Riverside Drive, which bills itself as a Mediterranean restaurant but which neighbors described as often oddly empty.

Police said a group of men was gathered inside the restaurant around 4:30 p.m. when at least one other man walked in and opened fire, striking at least six people. Three men died at the scene, while the fourth died at a local hospital and two others underwent surgery and were later listed in critical but stable condition.

The main suspect was described only as a white male, possibly Armenian, around 30 years old. Police were seeking to determine if he had accomplices.

Investigators, with the assistance of the Glendale Police Department, were believed to be looking into possible organized-crime ties to the shooting, but did not release any information about possible motives.

"It's a very complex investigation that we are involved in right now," said Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, head of the LAPD's Valley Bureau.

Police do not believe the shooting was random. When a local resident asked Albanese if she should fear for her own safety, he replied, "We don't believe we have a crazed gunman running around looking to shoot someone."

Investigators were "feverishly" working to develop leads but did not release any additional details

"We're still trying to locate witnesses to the crime," said LAPD spokeswoman Officer Rosario Herrera.

"At this point we don't know the motive or exactly how it happened."

Neighbors and workers at nearby businesses said the tinted-window cafe often seemed strangely empty. Many said it was rare for them to see customers eat there, while some said they sometimes would see a crowd of men in suits smoking outside, but not eating.

"The place is shady," said Matt Edwards, who lives close enough to have heard the "pop, pop" of gunfire. "It opened five years ago and it's always closed and empty."

"There's always people outside talking but never anyone eating," said Kim Sutton, who lives around the corner.

Added Erin Yates, who has lived in the area for 16 years: "It just makes you wonder, if no one's eating there, what they're doing. That freaks me out."

But other than that, most said, the area was generally quiet.

"This is a really great, safe neighborhood," said Kerim Duran, an area resident of eight years. "Sure, there's minor stuff like car break-ins, but murder? No. This is crazy."

Anyone with information was asked to call the LAPD's North Hollywood station at (818) 623-4016.