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Burbank Offers Reward as Hunt for Suspect in Officer's Killing Continues

Twenty-four people, including members of the family of the 19-year-old being sought, are arrested on suspicion of aiding him.

November 21, 2003|Richard Fausset | Times Staff Writer

As the hunt for alleged police killer David A. Garcia stretched into a sixth fruitless evening, Burbank officials offered a $50,000 reward Thursday for information leading to his capture and possible conviction.

Burbank police vowed that they would bring the suspect in.

"It's just a matter of time," Burbank Police Capt. Gordon Bowers said.

More than 200 federal, state and local officers have scoured metropolitan Los Angeles for Garcia, focusing on the northeast San Fernando Valley, where authorities say the 19-year-old is believed to have gang ties and could be hiding with the help of friends and family.

Burbank Police Chief Tom Hoefel said 24 people have been arrested on suspicion of harboring Garcia, and 14 others have been arrested on suspicion of crimes ranging from weapons possession to parole violations.

Garcia's father, Ernest, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of aiding and abetting his son. When released, the father held a news conference at the Burbank police station, urging Garcia to surrender.

"David, you need to know we love you," he said. "But ... you need to come in. They've arranged to have you come in safe. You need to do that. You need to do what's right, son."

Detectives have not decided whether to seek charges against the parents, authorities said.

Those arrested include Garcia's twin, James, and another man, who both pleaded not guilty Wednesday after they were formally charged with being accessories after the fact of murder, as well as with weapons violations.

"They helped him escape, conceal evidence," Deputy Dist. Atty. Craig Richman said. "We do not rest until cop killers are brought to justice. We are looking under every stone, behind every tree."

On Wednesday, authorities detained Garcia's mother, Loretta Gale Garcia, 53, at a hospital. But Hoefel said she had been released and had never been arrested.

Hoefel said the arrests of Garcia's family members and friends were a response to the "unusual circumstances" of the case.

"This is unique," he said. "We're dealing with violent gang members. We're finding weapons at every turn."

The Burbank reward offer follows a Los Angeles City Council offer of $25,000 on Tuesday.

Police say David Garcia and Ramon Aranda, 25, engaged rookie Burbank Officer Matthew Pavelka, 26, and Officer Gregory Campbell, 41, in a gun battle Saturday night after a traffic stop.

Pavelka and Aranda were killed. Campbell was seriously injured, and Garcia allegedly escaped on foot.

Police have invited the public to Pavelka's funeral, set for 10 a.m. today at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in front of the Burbank Police and Fire Department building, 200 N. 3rd St.

Times staff writer Wendy Thermos contributed to this report.

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