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Two suspects booked in slaying of MTV music coordinator

Jabaar Vincent Thomas, 26, and Destiny Young, 29, were initially arrested in connection with a string of robberies in which the attackers were armed with a shotgun, the same type of weapon used in the killing of Gabriel Aron Ben-Meir, according to the LAPD.

May 13, 2011|By Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
  • A man and a woman have been booked on suspicion of the execution-style slaying of MTV music coordinator Gabriel Ben-Meir, 30, whose body lay on a Mid-Wilshire street for five hours before it was discovered.
A man and a woman have been booked on suspicion of the execution-style slaying…

A man and a woman have been booked on suspicion of the execution-style slaying of an MTV music coordinator whose body lay on a Mid-Wilshire street for five hours before it was discovered, authorities said Thursday.

Jabaar Vincent Thomas, 26, and Destiny Young, 29, both of Los Angeles, were initially arrested Wednesday in connection with a string of robberies in which the attackers were armed with a shotgun, the same type of weapon used in the killing of Gabriel Aron Ben-Meir, 30, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Police said they were able to link the pair to the Ben-Meir case from witness statements and other evidence. Thomas was also booked on suspicion of killing a 35-year-old man in the Pico-Union area last month.

Ben-Meir, who hailed from a Los Angeles entertainment family and aspired to continue his career in music, was shot at least once in the back of the head early Sunday just steps from his front door. The killing shocked family members, colleagues at MTV and neighbors in the tranquil neighborhood lined with shady trees and manicured frontyards just a short drive from the Miracle Mile.

According to a law enforcement source, Thomas is a reputed gang member who was released from state prison in December after serving a sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Thomas has several felony convictions, including possession of cocaine, said the source, who asked not be named because the case was ongoing. Young did not appear to have a criminal history.

Thomas and Young are suspected of committing at least nine armed robberies in the last two weeks in the Mid-City, Wilshire and Southwest Los Angeles areas, LAPD Capt. Matt Blake said. The pair were arrested in connection with the robberies Wednesday, along with San Fernando Valley resident Richard Edward Anderson, 33. Police said Anderson has not been linked to Ben-Meir's slaying.

Anderson, who has half a dozen convictions dating from at least 1998, was on parole for being in possession of a controlled substance, according to authorities. Most of his convictions involved offenses related to drug possession and corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant.

Thomas was also booked on suspicion of killing Marcelo Aragon, who was struck by a shotgun blast and robbed as he walked through a residential area in the 2700 block of West 12th Street about 3:45 a.m. April 30, LAPD Officer Sara Faden said.

Thomas was being held in lieu of $2-million bail, police said, and Young was being held on $1-million bail.

The two were arrested as they rode in a Crown Victoria in Pico-Union, according to an LAPD source. The vehicle was stopped, the source said, because it matched a description of a car used in one of the robberies.

Detectives obtained search warrants for the vehicle and a home in South Los Angeles, which yielded evidence that connected Thomas and Young to the robberies and Ben-Meir's slaying, according to the LAPD source.

Ben-Meir had just parked his BMW when he was killed on Packard Street between Stanley and Spaulding avenues, according to police. Authorities have declined to say whether he was robbed.

Residents told investigators that they heard what sounded like a gunshot about 1:30 a.m. but that they did not call police. A man walking his dog came across the body about 6:30 a.m.

richard.winton@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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

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