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THE NORTH HOLLYWOOD SHOOTOUT

Anxiety and Souvenir-Hunting Mark Scene on the Day After

March 02, 1997|BETH SHUSTER and ANDREW BLANKSTEIN and ANN W. O'NEILL | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The morning after the bloody firefight between heavily armed bank robbers and police, the intersection of Laurel Canyon and Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood was part crime scene, part macabre tourist attraction.

As police combed through shards of metal and glass, searching for evidence, looky-loos sifted through bushes and even used knives to dig into the dirt and sides of houses for large-caliber machine gun slugs and other souvenirs of Friday's mind-numbing violence. North Hollywood on Saturday joined Brentwood, Malibu and other sites of diasters--natural and man-made--as an attraction for those compelled to see for themselves the latest in Los Angeles' string of catastrophes.

For residents who had hunkered down for hours Friday, there was lingering anxiety for some and a nearly giddy sense of relief for others who rehashed the adrenaline-charged hours of the day before.

Tracy Fisher had more practical matters on her mind. She came looking for her car, which she'd left behind when the bullets began to fly 24 hours earlier. She had been approaching the bank's automatic teller machine when both she and her dog, a 10-year-old golden retriever, were shot. Fisher wore a cast immobilizing a toe wound, her hands still shaking as she clutched a cup of coffee.

"Physically, I know I'll heal," Fisher said. "It's the other stuff that will take longer."

The anxiety and subsequent relief resonated deeply for the many immigrants in the neighborhood who thought they had left machine gun fire and bloodshed in their homelands. Moses Rivera, kept away from his Ben Avenue house until close to midnight, was reminded of his youth in El Salvador.

Jack Kestenian of Glendale recalled Lebanon in the mid-1970s. "It came back to me like this," he said, snapping his fingers. "It brought back the memories, the bad memories."

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