A 25-year-old Van Nuys man who may have been involved in a series of jewelry store robberies was shot to death by a Los Angeles police officer while the man police believe is the mastermind of the robbery ring escaped, authorities said Sunday.
William Bachwick was killed Saturday night when a shotgun unexpectedly fired as police tried to arrest him, said a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department. Meanwhile, another suspect, Kevin Kennedy of North Hollywood, eluded capture by slipping away into the quiet neighborhood somewhere around the 13200 block of Otsego Street.
Police said they suspect Kennedy of being involved in at least 25 robberies of jewelry stores in the West San Fernando Valley and Westside of Los Angeles within the last six months. Police are trying to determine if Bachwick was involved in some or all of the robberies.
Surveillance Team Follows Suspect to Van Nuys
On Saturday, a police surveillance team followed Kennedy as he drove from his Otsego Street home to Van Nuys. However, detectives said, they lost Kennedy somewhere in Van Nuys. The detective then returned to Kennedy's house to wait for him, according to Lt. Charles Higbie, who is in charge of the LAPD officer-involved shooting team.
About 9 p.m. Kennedy returned and went inside. A few minutes later, the investigators watched Bachwick drive into Kennedy's driveway, take a safe from the trunk and put it in the garage, Higbie said.
Police said they later learned that the safe allegedly had been stolen from a residence earlier in the evening.
When the officers moved in to arrest the men, they saw Bachwick walking toward them. As they were arresting him, Kennedy ran out the front door and down the street. Higbie said three detectives chased him.
Detective Gary Strickland, 43, a 22-year LAPD veteran, ordered Bachwick to lie on his stomach in the driveway, Higbie said.
When Strickland ordered the suspect to take his hands from under his body, he later told investigators he saw a black object in the suspect's hand that he thought was a weapon.
Bachwick made a sudden move upward, Strickland told investigators, bumping his 12-gauge shotgun. Strickland, who said he had been attempting to adjust a flashlight fixed to the weapon, accidently fired it, fatally wounding the suspect, Higbie said.
The black object was a glove, Higbie said.
Police searched the area until 3 a.m. Sunday with dogs and helicopters, but were unable to find Kennedy, Higbie said.
During a search of Kennedy's residence, Higbie said officers found jewelry and money that had been reported stolen during robberies committed Saturday.