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Police kill carjacking suspect in Koreatown

LAPD officers fire more than 60 shots as a chase ends at a gas station. Authorities say the man pointed his handgun at customers.

February 25, 2012|By Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Gas station owner Harry Hahn talks about the fatal shooting at his Koreatown gas station.
Gas station owner Harry Hahn talks about the fatal shooting at his Koreatown… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Eleven Los Angeles police officers fired more than 60 shots, police sources said Friday, in the fatal wounding of an armed carjacking suspect in Koreatown at the end of a televised slow-speed pursuit.

Authorities said police fired Thursday night after the suspect pointed his handgun at customers at a gas station, endangering people there.

"When he pulled out his revolver and pointed it at people inside the store, the officers took action, fired their rounds, and the suspect expired at the scene," Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.

But sources said the number of officers firing weapons is likely to be a focus of the Los Angeles Police Department's investigation into the use of force, which is routine after every officer-involved shooting. The district attorney's officer shooting team and the Police Commission's inspector general are investigating, as is standard practice.

Sources said the incident unfolded very quickly, within moments after the suspect pulled into the gas station parking lot. He was clearly armed, and officers knew he was suspected in two carjackings, police said. Video footage of the shooting shows officers opening fire and delivering multiple rounds as a bystander — gas station owner Harry Hahn — ducks for cover.

A variety of factors will be examined in the inquiry, including whether bystanders or officers were potentially in danger because so many officers were firing weapons, the sources said. The investigation will also look at the chase and the large number of patrol cars involved.

Police believe the suspect stole a car from a woman in San Bernardino shortly before 3:30 p.m. Thursday, then dumped the car in El Sereno and stole a car from a 65-year-old man, according to the sources.

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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