Three men were arrested while stripping a $75,000 Mercedes-Benz sedan stolen at gunpoint several hours earlier from Clippers basketball star Benoit Benjamin, Los Angeles police reported today.
Benjamin, who is 7 feet tall and weighs about 250 pounds, did not resist when a gunman--described as about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing about 135 pounds--confronted him about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday in front of a friend's home in the 1100 block of West 90th Street.
The gunman demanded the keys to Benjamin's 560 SEL Mercedes, the officers said. Investigators said the assailant then fired a shot in the air as a warning to the Clippers center before grabbing the keys and driving off with the car. Benjamin, 26, who was not hurt, immediately notified police.
About four hours later, a woman living in an apartment in the 700 block of West Colden Avenue--about eight blocks from where the car was stolen--was told by her son that some men were stripping a Mercedes in the alley behind her home. The woman, who had seen a report of the Benjamin robbery on television, called police.
Southeast Division Officer Robert Woodhead said he and his partner, Mike Coyne, arrived moments later to see four young men running from the car, which was missing its radio and wheels.
The officers called for backup units and the assistance of a police surveillance helicopter. Three of the suspects were arrested in the area. A fourth escaped.
Mboya Daniels, 19, was booked at the Los Angeles Police Department's Southeast Division station on suspicion of armed robbery and grand theft auto, police said. Steve Latha, 19, and Joe Mauldin, 24, were booked there on suspicion of receiving stolen property.