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7 Arrested in Slaying of Taft High Student Outside West Hills Theater : Crime: Suspects range in age from 15 to 19. Shots had been fired from a car, hitting the victim and a friend.

June 12, 1995|VIVIEN LOU CHEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WEST HILLS — Two men and five juveniles have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a 16-year-old Taft High School student outside movie theaters at the Fallbrook Mall over the weekend, Los Angeles police said Sunday.

The suspects, ranging in age from 15 to 19, included four teen-age girls. Two of those arrested--Elliott Singletary and Tommy Lee Williams, both 19--are believed to be the gang members who confronted the victim and a friend Friday night, police said.

Moments after that confrontation, Williams is believed to have fired several shots at the two teen-agers from a passing car, police said. Ramtin Shaolian died hours later from his wounds. His friend, Mehdi Sina-Kadiz, was released Sunday from West Hills Regional Medical Center after treatment for two gunshot wounds to his leg and lower torso.

"I don't believe there was a motive," Los Angeles Police Detective Jary Quinones said. "There was a verbal exchange that pissed the shooter off, and that was it."

Singletary and Williams were both arrested on suspicion of murder and were expected to be arraigned Tuesday.

Four other suspects, 15- to 17-year-old girls, were arrested on murder-related charges. A 16-year-old boy was arrested Sunday as an accessory to the crime. All five juveniles, who police declined to identify because of their ages, were later released to their parents, Quinones said.

The arrests were announced Sunday as friends of Ramtin gathered at the scene of the shooting for the second day in a row to honor a teen-ager who had tried to walk away from trouble before he died.

Grieving throughout the weekend, members of Taft's 1995 graduating senior class held a moment of silence for Ramtin during their prom Saturday night at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Some stayed up until about 3 a.m. to pray in a hotel room rented specifically for mourning.

"It's still all devastating. Since he got shot, people haven't slept," Taft senior Chris Sabeti, 17, said. "We haven't stopped crying."

Ramtin and a dozen friends, including Sabeti, were at the mall's General Cinema Theatres on Friday night to see the movie "Congo" after spending the day at Zuma Beach, Sabeti said. Although Ramtin was a sophomore with no plans of going to the prom, he told friends that he was looking forward to a party afterward.

Minutes after the movie started at 10:30 p.m., Ramtin and Mehdi, 16, reportedly left with a group of friends and walked across a parking lot to make a telephone call at a nearby drugstore.

They were then approached by Singletary and Williams, who wanted to know if they were in a gang, police said. Ramtin and Mehdi replied that they were not and tried to walk back to the theater, but Singletary and Williams climbed into a waiting car, which made a U-turn and followed them, police said.

Police believe that Williams fired several rounds at Ramtin and Mehdi, as well as five of their friends, all of whom dodged serious injury.

A crowd of movie-goers leaving the theaters looked on as friends of the victims tried to comfort them.

"At one point," Sabeti said, "[Ramtin] squeezed my hand. He wasn't saying much. But in the end, he started making noise and just kept saying, 'My stomach hurts.' He was lying on his back and I thought maybe it was because he was in shock."

Police arrested the seven suspects over the past two days. Williams and the four teen-age girls, who were inside the car, were arrested Friday night. Singletary turned himself into police Sunday morning. The 16-year-old suspected of helping more than one of the suspects hide from authorities was arrested Sunday afternoon, police said.

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