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Deputies' sweep fails to net suspect in postgame violence near Staples Center

Three are arrested, but not the man seen on videotape vandalizing a bus after the Lakers won the NBA championship.

August 14, 2009|Robert J. Lopez

Two teams of deputies fanned out across Los Angeles County early Thursday morning, hoping to find a reputed gang member involved in the violence that broke out in June after the Lakers won the NBA championship.

In the end, three alleged gang members were arrested on suspicion of parole violations unrelated to the nighttime unrest outside Staples Center, where crowds looted several stores, smashed car windows and vandalized police cars and MTA buses, authorities said.

But the gang member whom deputies were seeking was not at the Porter Ranch halfway house to which he was assigned as part of his parole, said Lt. Erik Ruble of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's transit services bureau.

He said the gang member was seen on videotape vandalizing an MTA bus. "He's the one we have absolute evidence on," Ruble said.

More arrests are expected as investigators continue to identify suspects who took part in the melee the night of June 14, Ruble said.

The names of the three men arrested were not released. They were taken into custody on parole violations and warrants for child endangerment and drug possession, authorities said.

The three men hail from the same South Los Angeles gang as the suspect being sought by the deputies. Those involved in the post-game violence were gang members or people who have had previous contact with law enforcement, Ruble said.

Thursday's 6 a.m. raids occurred at nine different sites, including South L.A., Hawthorne, Inglewood and Reseda. All were places frequented by members of the gang, which authorities declined to name.

Anyone with information regarding those involved is asked to call Deputy Goro Yoshida at (213) 922-3527.

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robert.lopez@latimes.com

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