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2 'party buses' involved in separate incidents in Hollywood

A Murrieta man who was a passenger on one is run over by the vehicle while trying to catch up with it at a nightclub stop. And four people are hospitalized in a shooting.

March 14, 2011|By Seema Mehta and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

Two "party buses" were involved in separate incidents over the weekend in Hollywood, sending five people to area hospitals, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Namar Burton, 22, of Murrieta was severely injured when he was run over by a party bus late Saturday night, said Sgt. Murrel Pettway of the LAPD's West Traffic Division.

Burton had been a passenger on the bus as it stopped at various nightclubs, Pettway said. About 11:25 p.m., the bus was driving east on McCadden Place and Burton was trying to catch up so he could re-board.

It was unclear how Burton ended up under the bus, police said.

"Somehow, when he got run over, he ended up getting into the tire well," Pettway said. "He was severely injured and he's now at Cedars-Sinai" Medical Center. Burton was listed in grave condition.

The second incident occurred early Sunday when four people were shot after a fight involving a party bus, Officer Karen Rayner said. The suspect remains at large. The shooting occurred shortly after 3 a.m. near Cahuenga Boulevard and Franklin Avenue, she said.

Witnesses told police that a fight broke out in front of a nightclub before shots were fired. Some of the witnesses boarded a party bus parked nearby to avoid the gunfire. The party bus then drove away to avoid becoming involved in the shooting.

Police said a 22-year-old North Hollywood woman was wounded in the buttocks; two Riverside residents, a 46-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman, suffered graze wounds to the head; and a 29-year-old Atlanta man was wounded in the leg. All four were taken to local hospitals, where they were treated for injuries that were not life-threatening. Police could not immediately say whether the victims had come to the club on the party bus.

The suspect was described as a black man in his early 20s, with a thin build, wearing a blue and white shirt, with his hair styled with multiple twists held with small rubber bands.

Additional information about the party bus operators or who had hired them was unavailable Sunday.

Party buses have become a growing fixture in Hollywood, ferrying groups of people to nightclubs and bars. Some cater to bachelor or birthday parties while others bring together people who don't know one another for pub crawls.

The buses can rent for several hundreds of dollars for an evening, and some are configured with multiple bars, elaborate music and light systems, and stripper poles.

Three to four dozen party buses descend on the Hollywood entertainment district on a typical weekend evening, coming from the San Fernando Valley, South Los Angeles, South Bay cities and even from as far away as Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said LAPD Capt. Beatrice Girmala.

"A lot of drinking takes place on these buses before they make it to the door of the venue," she said.

Even with 40 additional officers added to patrol the area in 2009, the influx of party buses adds to a taxing environment on the officers, she said.

"I use every single one [of the officers] and we've seen a decrease in crime in that area overall. But drunk people who don't want to listen lead to conflicts," Girmala said. "Liquid courage in these people makes for a difficult situation to police."

seema.mehta@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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