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Actor Dies in Crash, Victim of the Type of Heavy He Played

July 20, 1989|PAUL LIEBERMAN and DAVAN MAHARAJ | Times Staff Writer

In one of his first paying roles as an actor, Martin Brumer was a bank robber in an episode of the television series "CHiPs." In the last role of his fledgling career, he played a burglar in the 1988 movie "Chrome Hearts."

On Tuesday night, Los Angeles police said, the 28-year-old Santa Monica resident became a victim of the kind of man he portrayed.

Driving through a mid-city intersection, Brumer was killed instantly when his 1979 Volvo was struck by a speeding stolen Chevrolet driven by a 19-year-old Inglewood man who ignored a red light while trying to elude a pursuing police car, Detective Dave Martin said.

The driver of the speeding car, Toraino Leon Young, suffered only minor injuries in the 10:25 p.m. crash and tried to flee on foot, but was tackled and arrested by two officers, Martin said.

Young, who has a record of "narcotics-related arrests," was booked on suspicion of murder, the detective said.

Brumer, a 1983 drama graduate of UC Irvine who also studied karate, was "an eager young actor who was determined to work hard to make it," according to William Lee of Talent Bank, the agency that represented him.

Was Visiting Cousin

A family friend said he was returning home from visiting a cousin to see her newborn.

"I think he was just driving through at the wrong place at the wrong time," Martin said.

Minutes before the crash at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Arlington Avenue, police said, Young and a masked accomplice had commandeered the Chevrolet--a 1990 Prizm, so new that it did not yet have license plates--from a 29-year-old man who was about to go to a late dinner with a woman friend.

The robbery victim, who was not identified, was confronted by the two men while waiting in front of the woman's apartment in the 2200 block of West Pico Boulevard near Koreatown.

"She had gone into the house to tell her mother she was going to go out," Martin said. When she "and other relatives" walked outside the apartment, he said, they saw Young and his companion taking the car at gunpoint.

"They yelled at the suspects and called police," he said.

The second robber fled in another car and was still being sought late Wednesday, police said.

Young allegedly forced the owner of the Chevrolet to drive off with him, but freed the man a short distance away after taking his wallet.

Two officers in a patrol car, unaware of the robbery, noticed the Chevrolet speeding along Vermont Avenue six blocks from the apartment, Detective Gil Zuniga said. The driver "ignored lights and sirens and refused to pull over" for pursuing officers, he said.

Police said Young turned onto Washington Boulevard, sped past Rosedale Cemetery and reached up to 70 m.p.h. before running a red light at an intersection, plowing into two cars, including Brumer's.

The driver of the second car, David Hayes, 25, of Los Angeles, suffered back and hand injuries, but was released after treatment at Midway Hospital, authorities said.

Brumer worked at the Stan Brumer Co., his father's Los Angeles real estate business, while waiting for "the break in his acting career," Lee said.

His resume reflects a career of bit parts, including one in the soap opera "Days of Our Lives," with as many student theater credits as paying jobs.

Movie Role

Brumer had not gotten a TV or movie job, the agent said, since the filming in Randsburg, Calif., last year of "Chrome Hearts," a horror spoof about the clash of a group of women motorcyclists and zombies in a small town. The Tri-Star production has not yet been released.

"He would call me once or twice a week to check whether he had any offers. Some people are pushy, but he was very nice," Lee said.

"When I told him he got a small part in "Chrome Hearts," he was elated. He was (saying), 'Oh, boy! I got the part! I got the part!"'

Sherrill Kushner, 40, an attorney who lives next door to Brumer's family in Santa Monica, said the young actor was considering a legal career. Brumer was expected to take preliminary law school exams in September.

Despite having gotten a few bad-guy roles, Brumer was more like a comedian off the set, Kushner said. "He will always be known as a guy who always made everybody laugh," she said.

ROUTE OF CHASE Here's how police described the fatal incident: 1. Two men steal a new Chevrolet Prizm from the 29-year-old owner at gunpoint. One of the suspects drives off in the Prizm, while another flees in a getaway car.

2. Two officers spot the Prizm speeding and signal it to stop, but the driver accelerates instead. A chase begins.

3. After pursuit at up to 70 m.p.h., the Prizm runs a red light and broadsides a car driven by actor Martin Brumer, 28, of Santa Monica, who is killed on the spot. The suspect is not hurt, however, and runs off. The officers chase him on foot.

4. The suspect, Toraino Leon Young, 19, of Inglewood, is tackled and arrested.

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