Detectives Probe Armenian-Related Restaurant Homicide
Four Armenian men were shot and killed at a Mediterranean restaurant over the weekend in North Hollywood’s Valley Village district, with Los Angeles Department Homicide Detectives still struggling to find the suspects or a motive.
On April 3, around 4:30 p.m., suspects walked into the Hot Spot Cafe on Riverside Blvd and fired multiple gunshots, according to a statement released by the LAPD.
Hayk Yegnanyan, 25, Sarkis Karadjian, 26, Harut Baburyan, 28 and Vardan Tofalyan, 31 died as a result of gunshot wounds.
Although the shooting does not appear to be random, the motive for the crime is unknown. Law enforcement sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Los Angeles Times said they believed the shooting was tied to Armenian or Eurasian organized crime but are unsure of the motive.
The LAPD declined to comment to ianyan regarding any details of the case and calls to Hot Spot Cafe went unanswered.
The Times also reported that Baburyan, of Glendale had a criminal record according to court records and interviews.
“He was convicted in 2000 of receiving stolen property and sentenced to 18 days in jail and five years’ probation, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office,” reported The Times. ” Six years later, he pleaded no contest to illegal possession of a semiautomatic weapon and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.”
It also unknown if the shooting was gang related, however unnamed law enforcement sources told the Times on Sunday, April 4, that they believed the shooting might have involved gangs.
The most prominent Armenian gang in Los Angeles is known as “Armenian Power,” which rose after the collapse of the Soviet Union caused Armenian immigration waves to the area.
Sam Salazar, senior lead officer of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Division, which patrols much of Armenian Power’s turf, first encountered AP in 1988 when the owners of a now-defunct Hollywood carwash complained about the gang’s graffiti. Salazar met with the gang’s leader, Vahag “Boxer” Hagopian, a powerfully built man Salazar remembered as “5 foot, 9 inches tall and as wide as an ox,” according to a 1997 Los Angeles Times article.
The shootings come just one week after the slaying of Karine Hakobyan, who was found by her 14-year-old daughter fatally shot behind the wheel of her car.
Hakoyban’s killing came a little more than a year after her husband Khachik Safaryan, 43, and their 9-year-old daughter Lucine were found shot to death outside their apartment in Hollywood’s Little Armenia on Dec. 11, 2008.
Detectives investigating the killing of her husband said there appeared to be a link between the crimes, reported the Associated Press.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that police have identified a suspect in the killing of four people at a Valley Village restaurant.
Nerses Galstyan, 28, is suspected and believed to be the sole shooter in the attack. He is not in custody but has been indicted in federal court on suspicion of dealing firearms without a license, reporting The Times.
He is wanted on a federal indictment for weapons charges, according to Police Chief Charlie Beck at a news conference
Galstyan was attending a birthday memorial celebration inside the Hot Spot cafe, when a dispute erupted with several men in the party and Galstyan began firing multiple rounds, hitting and killing four men, Beck said.
Galstyan was attending a birthday memorial for an acquaintance who had died in a traffic accident a year earlier on April 3 inside the Hot Spot Cafe when he got into a dispute with several men at the party, Beck said. In anger, Galstyan fired multiple rounds, hitting and killing four men, the chief said.
“These are people who had some standing or relationship that may or may not have contributed to this,” Beck said. “This was not a random act.”
A federal grand jury indicted Galstyan on Friday on suspicion of dealing firearms without a license and possessing a weapon with an obliterated serial number.