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College Student Killed in Drive-By Shooting

An assailant fires 10 times at the car on the Hollywood Freeway.

March 10, 2004|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

A college student was shot to death on the Hollywood Freeway by an assailant who fired at least 10 times without apparent provocation, authorities said Tuesday.

Garen Ketikyan, 20, was struck in the upper body shortly after midnight by a gunman who pulled up alongside his Mercury Marquis near the Sherman Way exit.

The assailant was driving a white Mustang with blue headlights, chrome alloy wheels and dealer plates, a passenger in Ketikyan's car told detectives.

"We don't know the motivation for the shooting. There was no exchange of words on the freeway, no cutting off, no signs of road rage," said Los Angeles Police Department Det. Mike Coffey of North Hollywood Division. "The surviving victim said the shooter just began firing. These are regular family guys being shot at here."

Police and Ketikyan's family said the Armenian immigrant was a hard-working college student who had never been in trouble.

"He was good kid who always put his family first," said Garen's brother, Harut Ketikyan, who is a law enforcement officer with the Los Angeles County Probation Department.

"I've lost my brother and my parents have lost a son. We cannot bring him back. But we are going do what it takes to bring the people who are responsible for this to justice."

Police detectives say they have few clues to why Ketikyan was killed just a month shy of his 21st birthday .

The passenger in Ketikyan's car told police the two had visited a friend in Glendale and left the freeway to "cruise around for girls" near Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Victory Boulevard.

At a stoplight at Oxnard Street and Victory Boulevard, they got into a confrontation with two men riding motorbikes, Coffey said. Police are examining whether that incident could be connected with the shooting.

Ketikyan honked at the bikers when they failed to move after the stoplight changed to green, Coffey said.

"Both the guys got off their bikes and walked toward the Mercury in an aggressive manner," Coffey said. Ketikyan "told these guys they did not want any trouble."

The shooting occurred 10 minutes later. Several shell cases were recovered by detectives after the California Highway Patrol closed the freeway.

Harut Ketikyan said his brother was one to avoid trouble, always helping his parents and working hard as a supermarket cashier while attending Valley College to study business.

Garen Ketikyan had immigrated to the United States from Armenia in 1991 as the family sought a better life, his brother said. He attended Los Angeles schools and lived with his parents in Hollywood, the brother said.

"My family are crushed. They aren't taking this well. My mother is just sitting there with his baby picture. She can hardly speak," he said. "He was the victim of a random act of violence."

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