PASADENA — With calm restored last week after several days of civil disturbances, Pasadena detectives are focusing their efforts on solving a handful of assaults and attempted murders that were committed in the volatile hours just after the Rodney G. King verdict.
The night of April 29 was an evening of drive-by shootings aimed at random innocent victims in Pasadena, none with gang affiliations or criminal associations, police say.
A mechanic who restores old cars, a dishwasher, an accounting student and an aerospace engineer were among the people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time on Wednesday evening, said Lt. Van Anthony.
During two hours that evening, at least three innocent victims were seriously injured by cruising gunmen, police said. A fourth person was seriously beaten, and two women who were fired upon escaped injury.
Police last week interviewed victims and witnesses and sought to identify several vehicles used in the attacks.
As of late in the week, however, there were no suspects. Police acknowledged that they had few leads in the cases because none of the victims knew their assailants and their descriptions of the attackers were sketchy at best.
Police Chief Jerry Oliver said the circumstances suggest that several of the shootings may have been committed by "one set of suspects."
People were shot in "similar fashion," at random, "with no rationale," he said. "It appeared it was someone extremely angry driving around assaulting people with a weapon."
Following is what police had learned about the incidents by last week:
Robert Evanoff, 38, a Pasadena City College accounting student and part-time carpenter who lives in Northwest Pasadena, was on Elizabeth Street at about 9:45 p.m. investigating a "popping" sound near his house, when a Ford Mustang drove past. Someone in the car fired at him with a small-caliber gun, wounding him in the abdomen.
Evanoff remains in Huntington Memorial Hospital in fair condition. His wife, Judith, a nurse at the hospital, said he continues to be fed intravenously, though his condition is improving. "Now, I guess, when he hears something like that he'll come in the house instead of running toward it," she said.
Susan Barrett, 24, of Montrose and Kathy Wallace, 28, of Glendale were riding bicycles in Brookside Park, also at 9:45 p.m., when a caravan of five or six cars drove past them, their occupants yelling, "Rodney King!" The cars circled past them again, and someone opened fire.
At least one bullet grazed Barrett's back, penetrating her jacket and shirt but not injuring her. The women jumped off the bicycles and hid in nearby bushes, hearing about 50 shots being fired. Police found two bullet holes in Barrett's clothing.
Keith Ryden, 63, of Vista, a mechanic who restores old cars, was in his Volvo station wagon on Colorado Boulevard near Wilson Avenue in front of a liquor store at 10 p.m. when someone approached the car on the passenger side and fired a shotgun through the closed window. Ryden was struck in the face, knocking out some teeth and injuring his eyes, police said.
Ryden is in Huntington Memorial Hospital in fair condition, though a spokesman could not say whether the victim had been blinded.
Luis Ramirez Sanchez, 35, of Los Angeles, a dishwasher in the Brookside Golf Course restaurant, was waiting for a fellow employee in front of the clubhouse at 10:05 p.m. when passing cars opened fire. He was struck in the wrist, and his eye was injured, apparently from a flying chip of masonry, a friend said. Detectives found over 20 bullet holes in the clubhouse wall.
Ramirez Sanchez was released after doctors performed surgery on his eye, said restaurant bartender Gabino Lugo. He is expected to return to work next week, Lugo said.
Nam Trung Nguyen, 31, an engineer, was on his way to his Pasadena home on the Foothill Freeway (210) at 10:20 p.m., when a large American car, possibly a Cadillac, approached him from behind. The driver fired several shots at Nguyen, and he was cut on the cheek, hand and arm by flying glass from a shattering window.
Nguyen told detectives he was unable to see his assailant because the car had tinted windows. Police found four bullet holes in the side of his truck. Nguyen was not hospitalized.
Eufemio Marquez Perez, 43, a resident of Santa Ana, was getting gasoline at a station on Orange Grove Boulevard at 11 p.m. when four men approached and beat him, witnesses told police. One of the assailants struck Marquez Perez on the head with a blunt object. The four fled, two in a yellow Volkswagen Rabbit and two in another yellow car.
When police arrived, the victim was unconscious. Marquez Perez has since been released from Huntington Memorial, the spokesman said.