One person was killed and three others were hospitalized after a shooting broke out in a Northridge strip mall on Saturday afternoon.
Los Angeles police responded to reports of shots fired on the 19100 block of Parthenia Street around 12:33 p.m.
When officers arrived, they found four adult male victims with gunshot wounds.
One victim, a man in his 60s, was pronounced dead at the scene. A man in his 40s was transported to the hospital in critical condition while two others were transported in stable condition, police said. Two victims have undergone surgeries and another victim was treated and later released.
Investigators said the victim who was killed was hired to paint out gang graffiti on the exterior wall of a business located on Van Alden Avenue, just north of Parthenia Street.
While he was painting, the suspect pulled up near the victim, stepped out while holding an “Uzi” type semi-auto handgun and opened fire striking the victim multiple times in the chest, said LAPD. Three other male victims who were standing nearby were also shot, police said.
The suspect, who is considered armed and dangerous, fled the scene in a white sedan before officers arrived. Police said at least five to seven witnesses also fled the scene after the shooting.
The suspect is described as a tall, light-skinned Black male in his 30s, said LAPD.
Victor Santoyo, who owns the nearby Northridge Ice Cream, recalls thinking the shots were fireworks at first. He tells KTLA two men entered his shop and volunteered to paint over the graffiti on his exterior walls for free.
Security video shows two victims exiting the shop with paint supplies when a few minutes later, bystanders are seen ducking behind cars in the parking lot, likely in response to shots ringing out.
Moments later, a victim is seen stumbling back to the shop, telling bystanders he had been shot in the stomach.
“He just told me, ‘Call 911. Please, I need some help. I got shot,’” recalls Santoyo.
Santoyo tells KTLA he’s never witnessed anything like this shooting in the 23 years that he has been in business.
Authorities said the victims are not affiliated with any gangs, but it’s unclear whether the shooter was a gang member. It’s also unclear what prompted the shooting. Detectives are canvassing the area for surveillance video and speaking to witnesses.
“We don’t really want that type of ordeal in this community, because this community is pretty friendly,” said Donyale Allen, a local resident.
“We’re just thankful that nothing happened to us and we’re okay,” said Santoyo.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Gabe Bucknell at 818-374-1928. During non-business hours, or on weekends, calls can be directed to 310-726-7700 or 1-877-527-3247.
Anonymous tips can be submitted to the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-8477 or online at lacrimestoppers.org.