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MTV music coordinator found shot to death in Mid-Wilshire district

Police say they have no leads or suspects into the execution-style slaying of Gabriel Aron Ben-Meir, 30, whose body was found Sunday on a sidewalk near his home. Neighbors report hearing a single shot about 1 a.m. Sunday.

May 10, 2011|By Gale Holland and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
  • Gabriel Ben-Meir worked for MTV as a music coordinator.
Gabriel Ben-Meir worked for MTV as a music coordinator.

Police were trying to determine a motive Monday in the execution-style slaying of a 30-year-old man who worked as an MTV musical coordinator, whose body was discovered on a sidewalk in the Mid-Wilshire district.

The killing at about 1 a.m. Sunday of Gabriel Aron Ben-Meir stunned family members, co-workers at the music network and residents in a neighborhood lined with palm trees and manicured lawns not far from the Miracle Mile.

"We are all in terrible shock, and would appreciate anyone with any information regarding his final hours to come forward," Ben-Meir's sister Alexis said Monday evening in an email.

Ben-Meir had parked his BMW on the street and was just a few steps from his front door when he was shot on Packard Street between Stanley and Spaulding avenues, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Investigators did not say if he had been robbed.

A neighbor walking his dog about 6:30 a.m. Sunday came across Ben-Meir's body and alerted police. The victim was face down in a pool of blood, law enforcement sources said, and had been shot at least once in the back of the head.

The shooter may have used a shotgun, the sources said. Neighbors interviewed by detectives reported hearing what sounded like a single shot about 1 a.m., but said they did not report it to police.

On Monday afternoon, a bouquet of spring flowers left by a neighbor marked the spot where Ben-Meir was killed.

A Los Angeles native, Ben-Meir came from an entertainment industry family. His father, Nick, is an entertainment accountant, and his sister Alexis manages musicians.

He attended the Seeds laboratory school at UCLA and the Windward School in West Los Angeles for junior and senior high school students, then went on to Kenyon College in Ohio, where he played tennis and graduated with a degree in music and physics, his family said.

Ben-Meir was credited as a musical coordinator or post-production coordinator on several MTV shows, including the "Top Pop Group," which featured amateur bands competing to be crowned America's best pop group.

Ben-Meir was a "valued member of the MTV family and a beloved and dedicated colleague," MTV said in a statement.

"We are shocked and saddened to learn about the tragic death," the network said. "Our hearts go out to his family."

Ben-Meir's sister described her brother as "one of the kindest and most gentle souls I have and will ever come across."

She added: "He was not only my brother but my best friend."

Ben-Meir lived alone in a gray six-unit building on a shady street mixed with Mediterranean-style homes, triplexes and apartment buildings.

Residents said Monday that they were shocked by the killing, describing it as an aberration in an area not accustomed to such violence. The neighborhood, they said, is the type of community where people know each other and throw a Halloween party for children in the area.

"Forty-seven years I live here, never before was there something like that," said Kristina Nowinski, 73, a retired department store saleswoman who lives around the corner from the killing scene.

"He seemed like a very sweet guy," another neighbor said. "This is so out of the norm for this neighborhood."

One of Ben-Meir's neighbor said residents heard only a single "boom" in the night. Not recognizing the sound as gunfire, the neighbor said, people did not go out to investigate or call police.

Jez Coxson said he and his 8-year-old daughter were on a bike ride about 7:30 a.m. Sunday when they passed by the body, which police had covered in a blanket.

"I don't know the guy," said Coxson, 46, "but it could've been us."

gale.holland@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

Times staff writer Robert J. Lopez contributed to this report.

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