The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched an investigation after security footage appeared to capture three robbers armed with an AK-47 hold multiple people at gunpoint.
The robbery at Santa Monica Boulevard and Orlando Avenue, near the restaurant La Boheme, was reported around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Three armed suspects, a man with an assault rifle and two women with a handgun, approached two men in an alleyway and demanded their property, the LASD said in a news release.
Officials initially indicated that no one was injured and no property was taken, but the Sheriff’s Department said Thursday afternoon that one of the men was pistol-whipped, and a bystander who tried to intervene was robbed by the trio.
“So far, one of the weapons does appear to resemble an assault rifle, but like I said, it’s still an ongoing investigation and we’re not sure yet,” Detective Brandon Zeff said.
No information is available about the suspects, and the investigation is ongoing.
“I just want to tell our community members that they are safe in West Hollywood,” Mayor Sepi Shyne told KTLA. “We prioritize safety in our city. We have more security personnel than we have ever had in our city and that is why crime is down in our city.”
While violent crime reported in WeHo is down by about 6.5%, or 14 incidents, in the last 30 days, statistics show nearly 200 reports of of “part 1 offenses,” crimes that include murder, rape, arson, aggravated assault and robbery.
West Hollywood resident Alan Strasberg said the appearance of a possible assault rifle is a disturbing new development for public safety in the city. He also called the presence of the city’s safety ambassadors a failed experiment.
“The safety ambassadors are an experiment that has failed,” Strasberg said. “We see brawls with ambassadors. The mayor says they’re here to deescalate. They’re very nice people for sure, but they’re very ineffective.”
Larry Block, a West Hollywood business owner and co-owner of WEHOville, which first acquired the security footage, said the incident was “scary to see, but it’s not unusual anymore.”
“It’s become a little bit more dangerous to feel comfortable for my businesses, my employees. I’ve had to put active-shooter training into our schedules that we send out on the weekends, reminders of what to do in a situation like this,” Block said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Zeff at 310-358-4033 and refer to case number 923-02295-0977-031. To provide information anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit lacrimestoppers.org.
Sam Bader contributed to this report.