‘A bloody scene’: 3 killed, 12 wounded in mass shooting at West Adams restaurant – Los Angeles Times
A gun battle at a restaurant in the West Adams district left three people dead and 12 others wounded early Saturday, prompting a massive police dragnet for suspects.
“It’s a bloody scene with shell casings everywhere,” LAPD Sgt. Frank Preciado said.
There were about 50 people inside the restaurant in the 2900 block of Rimpau Boulevard when an argument broke out, Preciado said.
Three men left the restaurant and returned with firearms and began shooting at another group. Others at the restaurant also opened fire, and some diners were caught in the crossfire, Preciado said.
The shooting continued in the driveway of the restaurant, which is located in a converted house.
“When we got there, there were three people dead and people running everywhere,” Preciado said. “We had multiple people with gunshot wounds.”
Numerous officers from across Los Angeles were sent to the scene, which Preciado called “really devastating.”
Police took into custody two “persons of interest” — a man and a women — but were looking for other suspects. A gun was also recovered from the scene, Preciado said.
Officers are now canvassing the neighborhood looking for witnesses.
Some of the wounded were taken by ambulance to area hospitals, while others drove themselves, authorities said.
“The injured are scattered across Los Angeles hospitals.” Preciado added.
Deputy Chief Bill Scott, head of the LAPD’s South bureau, said his officers were still trying to piece together what happened.
“This is real tragic. We have a lot of sorting out to do. When the shooting started, everyone scattered,” he said. “Our detectives are getting a better picture of what unfolded.”
The restaurant, a popular Jamaican eatery with a wide following, has a DJ on Friday night and some customers play dominoes. Police said the owner was cooperating with detectives.
A motive for the shooting remained unclear.
About 50 LAPD officers and a similar number of firefighters were on the scene just after the shooting.
On Saturday, one resident, who lives on nearby Westhaven Street and did not want to be identified, said she was putting her dog to bed at about midnight when she heard what at first she thought sounded “like fireworks.”
There was a momentary pause, she said, then: “It was just ‘pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. It didn’t stop. It just kept going. … Really loud.”
“It was a series [of gunshots] first, like really fast, then a pause, almost like someone reloaded,” she said. “It was specific, as if someone was pointing at people.”
She estimated she heard about 20 gunshots in total. She ran to the window and watched people run by her house, screaming. Some held beer bottles, she said. Many jumped in their cars and sped off, she said.
Within minutes, police helicopters appeared overhead and fire trucks and police cars were parked on the street, she said.
She estimated at least 50 people fled throughout the night and said things didn’t calm down until around 2 or 3 a.m. Many more streets were blocked off overnight, she said, and at least 40 police cars were on site at one point.
She said she believed that there was a birthday party going on at the house because she could hear music before the shooting started. She said there have been periodic gatherings at the site.
Some parties, she said, are larger and louder than others, like the one Friday night. She said she can always smell the scent of grilled chicken and hear music.
Another neighbor, who identified herself only as Alice, said she has lived at her home for eight years and that as long as she has lived there, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, there are cars parked all along her street, even along stretches of the curb painted red. The street starts filling up in the early afternoon and empties out about 1 a.m., she said.
“We can barely get in our neighborhood,” the woman said.
It was only after reading news reports Saturday, Alice said, that she found out the house was operating as a restaurant. But both neighbors said they did not find the previous gatherings disruptive and described some of those who attended as very nice.
Blair Hamilton, who lives one block from the scene of the shooting on Westhaven Street, said he heard what he estimated were about 20 gunshots. He said he came out of his house and saw people “running every which way.”
“Total chaos,” said Hamilton, 58.
Hamilton said he saw an older woman sitting on the curb with a bloodied face. Two other women sat next to her, at least one whom also appeared to be injured, he said.
There was also a girl lying on the curb, Hamilton said. She was moving and being attended to by another girl, he said.
Meanwhile, police were escorting people out of the house, he said.
Resident Alvin Fortier, who has lived on Rimpau Boulevard for 10 years, said he was outside smoking a cigarette on his front lawn when he heard about 15 gunshots.
“I just heard the shots and I ran,” he said.
Fortier said he knows the people at the house where the shooting occurred.
“I know them. They’re friendly with me,” he said. “I try and get along with all my neighbors.”
He said they sell food out of the house and occasionally host parties.
“They was having a party last night,” he said, noting that there were a number of cars parked on the street Friday night, blocking driveways.
Fortier said this isn’t the first time there has been a shooting at the house. A few months ago, eight or nine shots were fired at the same place, but nobody was hit, he said.
“It’s like that place is targeted,” Fortier said.
Paul Elen, 64, said he was visiting his brother, who lives in the neighborhood, when the shooting occurred. He said earlier someone had parked a car in the driveway and they went over to the house, where a party was going on, to ask that the car be moved.
Elen said he’d been to a party at the house last year, but that the crowd this time seemed a lot younger.
“There was more younger people down there than I’ve ever seen down there — in their 20s, early 30s,” he said.
Elen estimates that there were more than 100 people in the house and on the front yard. He said he saw mostly women and that there was a DJ playing music.