Fwy reopened after deadly SoCal shooting

March 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles police said they have no witnesses to the car-to-car shooting that killed a man on the eastbound Ventura (101) Freeway in the heart of the San Fernando Valley today, and made a plea for anyone who saw the 8:14 a.m. incident to call them.Traffic on the 101 and its nearby San Diego (405) Freeway interchange, one of the nation's busiest, was snarled for more than six hours as police sought to piece together the deadly dispute that ended in a car-to-car shooting, and a bullet fatally striking a man in his head.

The victim, described as a Hispanic man in his 20s, was pronounced dead at UCLA Hospital 80 minutes after a white Honda Accord four-door sedan careened off the eastbound freeway's right sound wall, crossed all five lanes and smacked into the center divider on the busy route just east of the Van Nuys Boulevard exit.

Los Angeles Police Capt. Jim Miller told KNX Newsradio that "nobody stopped and stayed here, nobody shared any information about what they saw." He appealed for witnesses to call police.

Anonymous callers had told 911 operators that a white Honda Accord sedan had smacked into the center divider on Highway 101 just east of the Van Nuys Boulevard offramp at about 8:14 a.m. Witnesses said the car had rolled and was on fire, but arriving Los Angeles firefighters reported no flames.

CHP officers closed the freeway's two left lanes and began an accident investigation, but quickly called for LAPD homicide detectives. Shortly after 8:30, the CHP extended the lane closure to the entire five-lane eastbound freeway as the homicide investigation was undertaken.

LAPD officers were sent to the scene, and helped the CHP seal off the 101 at Van Nuys Boulevard, the first exit east of the 405 Freeway. Caltrans signs trucks were requested for the lengthy homicide investigation, CHP officers said.

By 10 a.m., heavy traffic had snarled the 101/405 interchange, and CHP officers decided to close the eastbound 101 Freeway at the 405, as well as 405 transition roads to the 101 east. Eastbound 101 onramps at Sepulveda and Van Nuys boulevards were also closed.

Officers noted that the freeway is typically lightly-travelled, but not empty, on Sunday mornings.

"Maybe somebody just saw the car spinning out of control and they didn't see anything else," Miller told KNX. He asked if "anybody who was on the freeway this morning around 8 o'clock, that saw any of what happened, could give us a call."

The Honda sedan could have been travelling on the 101, could have entered the eastbound freeway at Van Nuys or Sepulveda boulevards, or could have transitioned onto the 101 from the 405 just before the shooting, police said.

Detectives can be reached by calling the LAPD's main phone number, (877) LAWFULL, or (877) 529-3877.

The busy freeway's eastbound lanes were reopened at 2:10 p.m. The westbound freeway lanes remained open all day, but traffic was reported extremely-slow from Studio City west.

Police in Long Beach, meanwhile, said there was no reason to believe today's freeway shooting was connected to the shooting of a man in his car some 40 miles away last night.

That man was shot as he drove north on the Long Beach (710) Freeway near Del Amo Boulevard at 8:55 p.m. Saturday. He was reported to be stable with bullet wounds in his arm and leg.


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