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Gunman on tape is still at large

August 17, 2007|Jill Leovy | Times Staff Writer

Pulod Davlatnazarov was a new employee at Limelight Liquor store on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood when the man with the wire-rim glasses walked in.

Davlatnazarov, 39, an immigrant from Tajikistan, was working in the tiny storage room in the back of the store amid soda bottles, cans of beer and stacks of goods. His co-worker, Vladimir Akkerman, 69, was in front at the counter. Both were about to become victims in an attempted robbery and homicide last month that stood out for its brutality, said Det. Scott O'Neil of the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollywood station.

The crime remains unsolved despite widespread publicity and a graphic videotape that clearly captured the killer's face and nearly every move he made. But a month later, investigators are still struggling to pin down the man's identity. On Thursday, they appealed once again to the public for help.

Although they have received many tips, they need more, O'Neil said.

"I would really like to have this resolved," O'Neil said. "It's a very callous crime . . . very unprovoked."

The killer, described as black, 18 to 22 years old, about 5-foot-6 and 180 pounds, with a short Afro and prescription glasses, was the lone customer in the store that July 19 evening, just before 6:30 p.m.

He went to a refrigerator, removed a plastic half-gallon container of milk and went to the counter, where he asked Akkerman its price. He then put the milk back and walked to the rear of the store, breezing past the "employees only" sign and into the room where Davlatnazarov was working.

When he next appeared on the videotape, the man had Davlatnazarov by the collar and was propelling him at gunpoint toward the counter. Both Davlatnazarov and Akkerman appeared "totally cooperative," O'Neil said. At the counter, the man demanded money, pointing his gun back and forth at each of the employees. Akkerman then reached under the counter to hit a panic button.

The gunman shot Akkerman in the torso, then turned his weapon on Davlatnazarov, shooting him in the head.

Davlatnazarov died at the scene. Akkerman, who is from Uzbekistan, was in a coma for a week and remains bedridden. He will soon return to the hospital for additional surgeries, O'Neil said.

Davlatnazarov had come to the U.S. nine months ago, leaving his wife and two children behind. He was studying English and working at a produce market while also holding down the job at Limelight, LAPD Lt. Don Lehman said. He had planned to earn enough money to bring his family to join him here, Lehman said.

O'Neil said he believes someone knows the gunman or has seen him. Anyone with information is asked to call LAPD detectives at (213) 972-2910, (213) 972-2913 or (877) LAW-FULL.

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jill.leovy@latimes.com

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