Advertisement

Police Announce Arrest of Suspect in Cosby Slaying

Crime: 'This is the man . . . he is the shooter,' LAPD chief says of unidentified suspect, who had been under surveillance. Officers are interviewing two other people.

March 13, 1997|JIM NEWTON and MATT LAIT | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Police on Wednesday arrested a Los Angeles man on suspicion of murdering entertainer Bill Cosby's 27-year-old son, who was gunned down nearly two months ago in what detectives now believe was a random act of violence.

Another man and a woman were being interviewed by homicide investigators in connection with the slaying of Ennis Cosby, Chief Willie L. Williams said at a hastily called 11 p.m. press conference. He did not name any of the three.

Williams said investigators received a break--"one or two pieces of information"--that allowed them to identify the suspect. The department's special investigations unit put the suspect under surveillance Wednesday morning and arrested him later in the evening in the San Fernando Valley.

The suspect was described as a white male who resides in Los Angeles. Williams said he closely resembles the composite sketch of the suspect based on a witness' descriptions.

"We are very comfortable . . . that this is the man and he is the shooter," Williams said.

The chief said murder charges will be filed against the suspect. Williams said that at present there are no plans to file charges against the two people being questioned.

Williams said the investigation is continuing. He declined to release further details on the arrest or the possible motive for the Jan. 16 shooting, which occurred on a side street near Mulholland Drive.

"We may have additional information in the next 24 hours," Williams said. He added that detectives will be working constantly on the case.

One source close to the investigation said police believe a gang of "Russian" robbers may have taken part in the crime. The source added that somebody "came forward" and gave information to the police to settle a score with the suspect and his possible accomplices.

Williams said the Cosby family was informed about the arrest at about 8 p.m.

"We want to thank the LAPD," Bill Cosby said in statement. "We realize how tough it must have been on them every day. We always had every hope that they would find the suspect and that jurisprudence would proceed."

David Brokaw, spokesman for the Cosby family, said the entertainer was very "upbeat and optimistic" about the development.

"Bill Cosby has really returned to his life of joy, laughter and insight that we've always known about him and enjoyed with him," Brokaw said. "But the grief is still there every day and that is something he and his family have to sort out."

Ennis Cosby was shot once in the head Jan. 16 while trying to change a tire on his Mercedes-Benz on a darkened side road above Bel-Air.

The death of the young Cosby stunned the nation and prompted a massive investigative effort by the LAPD to find the killer. The victim's famous father hired a private investigator to assist in the hunt, while civic leaders and tabloid magazines offered about $300,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman.

It was unclear Wednesday what role the principal witness in the case has played in helping to collar the suspect. The witness, a 47-year-old self-described writer, apparently was called by Ennis Cosby that night to assist him in changing the flat tire.

The woman told investigators that she was on the scene when a man with a pistol accosted her and Cosby. The woman told authorities she was frightened off and returned to find Cosby's body lying by his car in a pool of blood.

Using a description provided by the woman, police released a composite sketch of the suspect. At the time, the suspect was described as a white male of average height and weight between 25 and 32 years old. He was wearing a light-colored knit cap and was seen approaching Cosby on foot.

Another witness that night reported a suspicious car in the area around the time of the shooting. Police released a drawing of the driver, who they said was a possible witness wanted for questioning. Days after the release of the sketches, police detained a man matching the description of the driver, as well as a friend of his. Although the man had been in the area at the time, police said he knew nothing of the incident.

After that setback, police continued to press forward in the investigation, reviewing cellular phone records, looking for fingerprints and examining the flat tire for signs of sabotage.

Police were baffled over a possible motive for the murder, noting that nothing appeared to be missing from either Cosby or his car. Investigators said they were not sure whether the killer accidentally stumbled upon Cosby as he was fixing his tire, or whether it was a planned attack in which the tire had been sabotaged.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|