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The Valley

Police Target Associates of Suspect in Officer's Slaying

About 10 are arrested in a sweep of those who might be aiding David Garcia, believed to be hiding in the Valley.

November 19, 2003|Richard Fausset | Times Staff Writer

As a multiagency force of more than 100 police officers continued to search the northeast San Fernando Valley for alleged cop killer David A. Garcia, the suspect's twin brother and another man were charged Tuesday with helping him elude police.

Garcia -- an alleged gang member -- is believed to be hiding out in the northeast Valley with the help of family and friends, prompting authorities to broaden their search to include anyone who may have aided him.

In the sweep, police have served more than 20 warrants and arrested about 10 people -- some on suspicion of helping Garcia escape, others for unrelated drug and weapons violations, Burbank police said.

As the family of slain Officer Matthew Pavelka, 26, issued an impassioned plea for the community's help at a Tuesday news conference, the arrests sent an equally strong message to those who would come to Garcia's aid.

Garcia's twin brother, James B. Garcia, 19, and neighbor, Erwin De Leon, 20, were arrested Sunday morning. The men, who live in Los Angeles near the Burbank city limit, were charged with being accessories after the fact of murder, as well as possession of assault weapons, a machine gun and a silencer, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Craig Richman.

The men, who pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon in Burbank Superior Court, are being held in lieu of $600,000 bail each.

At Tuesday's news conference, Burbank Police Chief Tom Hoefel said Garcia is still receiving help.

"Every indication is that he is still in the area, being sheltered by family and friends," Hoefel said. "We will not rest until we hunt him down."

Burbank police said they have followed up on dozens of tips since Saturday night, when, according to authorities, Garcia and an accomplice opened fire on two police officers in a hotel parking lot after a routine traffic stop, killing Pavelka and seriously wounding veteran Officer Gregory Campbell, 41. The two officers returned fire and killed the alleged accomplice, Ramon Aranda. Garcia escaped on foot.

Three ounces of methamphetamine and an assault rifle were found in Aranda's car, and Garcia had been staying in the hotel where the shooting occurred for the last month. Hoefel said the two "were engaged in some sort of narcotics activity at the hotel."

Pavelka's family appeared before TV cameras Tuesday to plead for the community's help.

"I just want to appeal to everybody to please, if they know anything about David Garcia, to call the Burbank Police Department," the officer's mother, Billie Sue Pavelka, said, choking back tears. "Because I've lost my son, whom I loved so dearly. And it's just not fair that a man like that is out there free."

Pavelka's father, Michael, a detective and 29-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, said his son had always dreamed of being a policeman. "My son Matthew loved being a police officer, and even in light of what's happened, I don't think he would've changed his career path," he said.

Campbell remained in stable condition at a local hospital, Hoefel said.

A third officer, Randy Lloyd, was injured in a traffic accident while heading to the scene and was in good condition, the chief said.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles City Council offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Garcia, who is described as 6 feet 1 and 220 pounds with brown eyes and a shaved head.

Funeral services for Pavelka will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

The Burbank Police Officers Assn. has set up funds in honor of Pavelka and Campbell. Donations can be sent to BPOA, Box 229, Burbank, CA 91503.

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