Ten suspects are being held without bail and nine weapons — among them two AK-47 assault rifles — have been confiscated in the wake of two separate but related shooting incidents last weekend that left two people dead, three wounded and a community in shock.
The shootings — which Pasadena police say stemmed from a feud between an alliance of Crip street gang factions in Altadena and Duarte and Blood gang members in Pasadena — began on Friday, when Antoine Sutphen Jr. and Ormani Duncan, both 24, were fatally shot in a drive-by shooting on Claremont Street, near Fair Oaks Avenue, shortly after 11:30 p.m.
Two others — an unidentified woman and man — were wounded in that attack, the woman critically. The man suffered a not life-threatening injury.
“This is a community tragedy,” said Councilman John Kennedy, whose district includes the working class neighborhood where the crime occurred. Kennedy is also chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee.
“My prayers and condolences go out to the families who have lost loved ones in the shootings that took place over the weekend and the previous horrific murder of Brandon Douglas that took place just several weeks before,” Kennedy said. “We are also praying for the victim struggling for life and others who were injured and are traumatized by these senseless acts of violence.”
The victims were attending a vigil for Douglas, who was shot and killed on Dec. 22 in a gang-related incident on Claremont Street. Memorial services were held for the 25-tear-old Douglas at Mountain View Mortuary in Altadena on Saturday, not long after the shooting. No arrests have been made in that case.
In the second shooting, which happened at about 5 p.m. Saturday near the same candlelit street memorial for Douglas, an unidentified 37-year-old Pasadena man was shot in the thigh. That victim was treated at Huntington Hospital and later released.
In the Friday night shooting, the wounded woman sought help at a nearby city fire station. Another unidentified woman tried to drive Duncan and the wounded man to Huntington Hospital, but the driver crashed at the corner of California Boulevard and St. John Avenue, near the facility. Duncan died while in the car.
“Since the homicide we have been able to draw a nexus between Crips in Duarte and Altadena and Bloods in Pasadena who are feuding,” said Pasadena Police spokesman Lt. Vasken Gourdikian. “There has been activity back and forth. Increased patrols and gang officers are working seven days a week.”
Gourdikian said the department was worried about continued violence but was working with other agencies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which patrols nearby unincorporated Altadena and Duarte. The Sheriff’s Department has a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, with the Pasadena Police Department that allows deputies to come into Pasadena from Altadena in search of fleeing suspects.
“Our residents should know we are working diligently and we are decisive in our methodology,” Gourdikian said. “We have knowledge of some of the players involved in this.”
By Monday, that knowledge seemed to pay off.
At 4:40 p.m. Saturday — around the time of the second shooting incident — police arrested three people during a traffic stop after a passenger fled the vehicle to a nearby apartment complex in the 1000 block of North Raymond Avenue, just a few blocks from the murder scene. As the man fled, police said he passed a handgun to another man in the complex.
The driver, Doncell Hannah, 23, was detained and police found a weapon in the vehicle leading to Hannah’s arrest. Michael Robertson, 31, who police said fled from the vehicle, was also arrested, as was Richard Isham, 31 — to whom Robertson allegedly passed the gun.
All three men are convicted felons and barred from possessing firearms. Richardson was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was treated for injuries which he sustained in a scuffle with police at the end of his pursuit, Gourdkian said.
Shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday, police arrested three more men during a traffic stop when officers spotted a vehicle matching the description of a car involved in a separate but possibly related shooting in Duarte. In that incident, two men were injured after 3 p.m. Saturday when a gunman in another car opened fire on them.
Following the arrest, police found a handgun on the floor of the driver’s side of the vehicle and recovered a loaded AK-47 automatic weapon from the trunk. The AK-47 was designed as a war weapon for Russian forces during the last stages of World War II. A fully automatic version of the weapon can fire 100 rounds per minute. A semiautomatic version fires up to 40 rounds. The weapon became a favorite of gang members in the 1980s and ’90s. Police arrested Richard Toney, 26, of Duarte, and Marcet Mormon, 32, and Kaquann Offutt, 27, both of Pasadena. Those three men were taken into custody on suspicion of possessing illegal firearms, Gourdikian said.
Just after 2 a.m. Monday, police arrested four more men following a brief pursuit. Officers briefly pulled over a car near Kings Villages on Fair Oaks Avenue, but the car sped off before officers could make contact with its occupants. The car later stopped near Sunset Avenue and Washington Boulevard, not far from the initial stop. There police found another AK-47 in the vehicle.
Pasadena residents Randy Broadmax 29, Marvin Evans, 30, Derek Brown, 31 and Dwayne Evans, 32 were all arrested in that incident on suspicion of illegal firearms possession and gang membership charges.
By late Monday morning, police had arrested 10 armed suspects with alleged gang connections and seized nine guns, including the two AK-47s, according to Gourdikian.
The two incidents, which have left residents pondering how to end the violence, have also renewed calls for an increased police presence in gang-infested neighborhoods.
In a prepared statement, Councilman Victor Gordo renewed his call for more resources for local police.
“Let’s keep in mind that we live in a great city and those responsible for this activity are a very small percentage of our community,” Gordo wrote. “However, it should not take crises like these to make sure our Police Department has the resources it needs to keep our neighborhoods safe. We must also ensure community violence prevention and intervention programs are effective and accessible for our youth and family.”
After the initial shooting, police found Sutphen’s lifeless body about a half block away, near Pepper Street.
While they were working that scene, police received a call that the female victim had made her way to a nearby fire station and was suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
Duncan and the other man that was wounded piled into a car driven by another unidentified woman and headed toward Huntington Hospital. That car was involved in an accident near California Boulevard and St. John Avenue. Duncan was pronounced dead from his gunshot wounds at the scene.
“After officers responded to the shots fired calls, the scenes unfolded within seconds of each other. It was very hectic and fluid. It was a large area to cover,” said Gourdikian.
Gourdikian said officers continued to get information from the department’s air squad as they locked down the four separate crime scenes.
“I am extremely proud of the men and women of the Pasadena Police Department who have worked tirelessly in the pursuit of these predators and others like them who live within our community,” Chief Phillip Sanchez said in a prepared statement. “These arrests and seizures serve as a vivid reminder that high-capacity weapons are in the hands of criminals.
“I am hopeful that through robust police enforcement strategies, along with information sharing among law enforcement organizations, we will arrest those persons responsible for the recent murders and bring them to justice,” Sanchez said.
“Yes, there is a law enforcement response to bring the perpetrators of these heinous acts to justice, and that will surely and appropriately take place,” said Kennedy. “But there is also a community response that I am hoping for that is not political, not posturing and not geographic. … We must be in this cry for intentional civility, elimination of guns on our streets, job-skills training and promotion of literacy to combat violence as a whole community.”