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Young Man Stabbed to Death on Veterans' Day

Two suspected gang members are wanted for Northeast L.A.’s sixth homicide so far this year.

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LAPD badge.

A suspected gang member stabbed to death a young man in Highland Park on Veterans' Day Monday following a fistfight between the victim and another gang member.

The victim, aged 19 years, was identified as Andrew Michael Sittiams, according to a post on the Los Angeles Police Department Northeast Division Facebook page. He succumbed to his injuries after being transported to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena about an hour-and-a-half after being stabbed, Sgt. Lisa Philips, a watch commander at the LAPD Northeast Division told Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch.

It was the sixth murder in the Northeast Division so far this year, and it occurred just three days after LAPD Chief Charlie Beck quoted the latest 2013 crime figures and reported that homicides in Northeast Los Angeles have dropped dramatically by 50 percent, setting the city on track to record the lowest number of homicides since 1966.

There was no known motive for Monday’s murder, which occurred at about 4:30 p.m. on the 7100 block of North Figueroa Street, less than half a mile east of the Yosemite Drive intersection in Eagle Rock, Philips said. (See attached map.) Detectives are trying to piece together evidence from the murder and have made no arrests so far, the watch commander said.

What’s known about the incident is that the victim and a male friend of his were walking north on Figueroa when the two suspects drove by in a dark-gray four-door sedan, Philips said. One of the suspects asked the victim and his friend which gang they were from, the watch commander said, adding that “some sort of words were exchanged” and the suspects drove away but then returned. 

The suspect who was driving got out of the sedan and a fistfight ensued between him and the victim, Philips said. That’s when the second suspect jumped out of the car and “began stabbing the victim, who eventually collapsed,” Philips said, adding that both suspects then jumped into their vehicle and drove south along Figueroa.

Both suspects are believed to be aged 20 years to 25 years, and had tattoos on their faces, Philips said. The suspect who got into a fistfight with the victim had tattoos on his chin as well and is described as about six feet tall, the watch commander said. The other suspect is about 5-foot-8.

The suspects’ gang affiliations are not currently known. Neither the victim nor his friend are believed to be gang members, Philips said, adding that the entire incident appears to be a random one, as opposed to something preplanned.

The lead detective investigating the murder is Det. Harold Dicroce, who also investigated the well-known Matthew Turner case in which a 21-year-old Highland Park resident was convicted of killing a local gang member and maiming another in October 2008. 

Editor's note: The name of the victim has been added to this article since it was initially published.

Leticia Hughes November 12, 2013 at 04:44 PM
This stupidity needs to stop!! These punks need to be hung!! There would be less crime if the punch ment would be like other countries and hung them or better yet send them to fight the war since they have no passion for human life. Instead of sending our soldiers. Send these punks to fight for our country. See how brave there are then!!!!
Jeff Chapman November 12, 2013 at 05:05 PM
So many kids walk from ERHS along this route. Really sad. Saw the cars and the tape yesterday evening, but had no idea.
jayres November 12, 2013 at 07:20 PM
I just found out about this stabbing prior to reading the article on Patch. I knew the victim, he was my neighbor. He was a nice kid who introduced himself to me when I was doing yard work. I can tell you that he was very friendly, had a job typical of kids his age, and was not involved in gang activity. He always stopped and talked when he walked by my house and a worse thing couldn't have happened to such a nice person. I send my deepest sympathy to his mom and family for their loss.
Ajay Singh (Editor) November 12, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Thanks for that sad detail, Jayres. There are some additional insights about the victim and a possible motive for what happened to him on the Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch site: http://highlandpark-ca.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/young-man-stabbed-to-death-on-veterans-day
Ajay Singh (Editor) November 12, 2013 at 09:18 PM
This came in just now from Northeast LAPD in response to my question whether the victim of this crime was an African American, as a reader on Highland Park Patch has pointed out, and whether his murder will be investigated as a hate crime or not: "The victim was African American. We are not currently investigating this as a hate crime. We are investigating the incident as a Homicide with Gang Enhancement -- which carries a stiff penalty." Visit the Northeast LAPD Facebook page for other details and comments: http://alturl.com/guoyv
Alex White November 13, 2013 at 04:22 PM
P.C. And circling the drain....
Andrew Hindes November 14, 2013 at 12:52 PM
I appreciate the Patch's handling of this story. Some media reports have headlined this a "gang-related" stabbing, which makes it sound like a dispute between gang members. A young man, who was not a gang member, was targeted by strangers and killed. The fact that the criminals are gang-members does not make it gang-related anymore than a bank robbery or a home-invasion perpetrated by gang members would be described as gang-related. While a young person dying in gang warfare is tragic, this description allows readers (including myself, before I read the details of the incident and talked to people who knew the deceased) to feel somewhat insulated from the crime. I think this has kept this horribly sad and deeply disturbing incident from having the impact it should be having on our community and our city.
Alex White November 14, 2013 at 01:13 PM
As identified by the LAPD, known and affiliated gang member’s murder an innocent person in cold blood and it is not "gang related" because the victim was not in a gang? Ok, if you say so. I guess the L.A.P.D. and the L.A. District Attorney do not have a clue as to how to categorize crime and prosecute it accordingly; and, therefore, using your Alice in Wonderland logic, the “gang enhancement penalties” are null & void, a moot point and legally invalid; and, as a consequence of that fine use of legal expertise and razor-sharp logic, the murderers can now plead involuntary manslaughter rather than 1st Degree Homicide—with enhancement—and, if convicted, receive a lighter sentence, escape the Death Penalty, and be released as ex-cons (probably not the first time), and then they can continue their obviously misunderstood life of crime. I prefer to be feed the truth, investigated and reported as best as possible under the circumstances of a "Breaking News" story. Holy Crap, Batman! Goulashes anyone?
True Freedom November 14, 2013 at 09:34 PM
@andrew : I think you have to look at the motivation behind the crime. Most likely, the motivation behind a bank robbery or home-invasion is to purloin goods/ money. So, this may or may not be gang related, even if perpetrated by gang members. If the stolen items are to benefit the gang in some way, then yes. However, what would be the motivation in asking a stranger, who could be misidentified as a gang member because of his age, ethnicity, and/ or clothing.. where he's from followed by a murderous attack? This is highly likely motivated by gang activities, such as assertion of turf control. So yes, there can be quite a difference between this attack and a home invasion or bank robbery.
Punky November 14, 2013 at 11:08 PM
"The victim was African American. We are not currently investigating this as a hate crime. We are investigating the incident as a Homicide with Gang Enhancement -- which carries a stiff penalty." When you catch the scumbags, please charge them with the stiffer penalty. These two a**holes need to be locked away forever.  Horrible, horrible, horrible!
Julee November 15, 2013 at 04:35 AM
I saw some kids standing at the crime scene yesterday, (I am assuming to pay respect to Andrew Michael Sittiams) and it was heart breaking to see them there looking so sad. Something about this has really hurt my heart even though I never knew him. It seems horrible to me that this happened at 4:30 in the afternoon and I could have driven by and seen it and may or may not have been able to help. I wonder how no one helped considering how busy the street is. It's very strange to me how a couple people completely missed the point of Andrew Hinde's post.
Alex White November 15, 2013 at 01:37 PM
There were several points that I observed, at least one a logical non sequitur.
Alex White November 15, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Why is not embracing an illogical syllogism—albeit a 1st Amendment right opinion—so “strange” to understand? Here's another point. Most people don't get involved when other people are being violently assaulted because they don't have the ability to protect themselves, so they don't want to be murdered by hard-core gang members who for all intents and purposes "run the roost." They control the situation because they don't fear reprisal; they don’t respect authority; they don’t obey the law, and they absolutely do not value other people's lives. Prison for them is a vacation and continuing education. Prison is a vocational hazard, but it is also a stepping stone to promotion, a chance to become a “Shot Caller” and not just a soldier or “slinger.” If law enforcement can't control them, and they have “extensive resources” and "elite" training, how can a singular unarmed, untrained person? There are an estimated 1.4 million gang members entrenched in the 33,000 gangs roaming the U.S. -- well over 100,000 gangbangers in Los Angeles County alone. They are constantly exporting these criminals to other states as well as importing them into this state. From the LAPD website: “The County and City of Los Angeles are the “gang capital” of the nation. There are more than 450 active gangs in the City of Los Angeles. Many of these gangs have been in existence for over 50 years. These gangs have a combined membership of over 45,000 individuals.” Additionally, “Gangs are not a new phenomenon. During the last three years, there were over 16,398 verified violent gang crimes in the City of Los Angeles. These include 491 homicides, nearly 7,047 felony assaults, approximately 5,518 robberies and just under 98 rapes.” Based upon my research and field work, I believe the 45,000 gang members to be a conservative estimate. The 18th Street gang is the largest gang in California with an estimated 18,000 members. 18th street is La eMe controlled, as are many of LA’s gangs and these gangs often cross-affiliate to facilitate “street business.” Even in spite of long-term rivalries, Bloods, Crips, Armenian Power, and the numerous Latino gangs— including the Nortenos gangs, the Nuestra Familia and Mexican Mafia Surenos gangs— will all cooperate to some degree when it involves expanding commerce, making money, and avoiding law enforcement interdiction. In Southern California, and in 34 more states, the Mexican Mafia (La eMe) is in the business of crime, all types of crime. Additionally, FBI stats state that 48% of violent crime is committed by gang members. It’s a big money making business, including drugs, prostitution, human trafficking, extortion, theft and burglary, and many white collar crimes. For more specific information check out “streetgangs.com.” In the end, it will take an entire communities’ concerted and continued effort to eradicate and to render established gang institutions impotent. However, the community is not cooperating collectively and systematically to combat a pervasive thug culture and the anarchy it creates for that community. There is no sustained and collective effort. In fact, some people in the community not only know who these criminals are, but in many cases they protect and coddle them. Call it a familial thing. Therefore, as long as this type of conduct is tolerated and even embraced as a lifestyle choice, evil people will do evil things to good people, and the tragedies will continue unabated. See, some of us do actually understand.
Andrew Hindes November 15, 2013 at 06:23 PM
@Alex White--Breathe! My comment had nothing to do with the statute under which the crime should be prosecuted and I am in no way advocating for lighter sentencing for the perpetrators. As I stated, my concern has to do with the way the crime is described in news reports because I believe that, sadly, a lot of people see "gang-related murder" and think, on some level: "oh, it's gang members in a turf war, that's sad but it's got nothing to do with me."
Andrew Hindes November 15, 2013 at 06:32 PM
@True Freedom. Good point. Perhaps my analogy was off the mark. But as I said in my response to Alex, above, I believe the "gang-related" description may have robbed the crime of its impact on readers of media reports. How else to explain why there has been so little coverage of this tragic incident.
Julee November 15, 2013 at 07:53 PM
I agree with you Andrew and yes it's an entirely different point than the one Alex is making. They are two different topics. When people use the language "gang-related murder" I can see how it does create in ones mind that the victim was also a gang member. When gang members attack an innocent by stander like myself, anyone reading this thread, or Andrew Michael Sittiams, it should be communicated more carefully by the media so that people having a clearer understanding of what happened.
Alex White November 16, 2013 at 12:32 PM
Breath...implying that posting relevant, insightful, factual, timely information perhaps useful for stoking awareness for those who might not know and also igniting healthy debate about a current and close social evil that's infecting entire neighborhoods and the nation, and which also might possibly create actual community action to overcome apathy and combat gang crime is somehow...? It's an open comment forum, I breathe fine, and I don't do fluff—especially about youth homicide and organized crime in LA. Sorry if I offend your sensibilities. Secondly, a logical non sequitur is still illogical whether you, I, or Ms. Julee agree or disagree as to content and meaning of my post vs. yours. That was my main point. Your sentences are yours. The rest was information and a bit of direct sarcasm. Probably most relevant and less incendiary than actually presenting verifiable facts vs. working off of emotion—the key is contained in the body of the story. "The suspects’ gang affiliations are not currently known. Neither the victim nor his friend are believed to be gang members, Philips said, adding that the entire incident appears to be a random one, as opposed to something preplanned." That fact is further qualified on NE LAPD's Facebook page, linked to the story. In no way was the victim ever portrayed as a gang member, although a "fudge phrase” (are believed) was used as is media customary. The story topic is clear. "A suspected pair of gang members attacked and killed an innocent man in Highland Park." That’s News. That’s relevant information. That’s what News is. Something interesting to read. It IS a gang-related murder because gang members are involved-- implied "Turf War" or otherwise. When gang members ask young men walking in the neighborhood (usually where they reside, but not always, as sometime they go on “runs” and actively hunt for victims)--“Which gang you from?"-- they are absolutely, unequivocally asserting territorial imperative. When they deliberately return and systematically murder someone, they are absolutely and unequivocally exerting territorial imperative. It's the way they work. It's their gang code of ethics. It’s either their Turf, or they are impeding on some other gang’s Turf. And then they do battle. Reporting that fact is relevant News. What I found P.C. and what started your “laudable defense” and my subsequent response is the non-identification of suspects’ or victim’s race, perhaps unknown at the time, but a usual Patch & LAT’s custom. I have a diatribe on that as well as I personally find it irresponsible journalism, liberal subterfuge! There’s a history between “The Parks” Latino gangs and Black residents. Some people might find that info relevant. Finally, liking Ajay’s style or otherwise, which by the way I do, and I assure you Ajay can defend himself, Patch is certainly circling the drain. It’s common knowledge. AOL is plastering Ads; changed their format to a less interesting user friendly style; and they are laying-off staff like a company attempting to stop a cash flow hemorrhage. They are also rearranging editors to take on more locals that they don’t live in or have a close attachment to. As a result, they are reporting less and less effectively. It’s obvious. Malibu just lost an editor I enjoyed. Craig Clough, who I also enjoyed, was moved from the area I work in. That Patch is now dreadful. The Kent, Ohio Patch, my hometown, 86’d their competent editor. As a result, the news coverage I read from there has suffered. It’s the elephant in the room. Now I Breathe…. Have a good day.

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