Police: Gang extortion attempt led to LA market shootout

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LAPD officers and detectives gather outside Royal Fresh Market in North Hollywood after the owner got into a shootout with suspected Armenian gang members, who according to the LAPD, were trying to extort his business on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. The incident happened after employees were attempting to paint over graffiti that read “…pay me $100,000.” One suspect who was shot was taken into custody while others were still at large. (Sarah Reingewirtz/The Orange County Register via AP)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A shootout that wounded at least one person outside a Los Angeles market on Monday involved the business owner and members of a street gang who had been trying to extort him out of $100,000, a police official said.

Employees were washing gang graffiti from the walls of Royal Fresh Market in North Hollywood when armed gang members returned shortly after 8 a.m., Sgt. Frank Preciado said.

“What the suspects weren’t counting on was the victim was armed too,” Preciado said.

The market’s owner had two weapons, and he and the gang members exchanged dozens of rounds that struck several cars and left the parking lot littered with spent casings, the sergeant said.

One male gang member was shot in the shoulder and arrested when he collapsed while trying to run away, Preciado said. His injuries were not life-threatening.Police searched for three other men who sped off in a light-colored Audi.

Witnesses reported seeing one fleeing gunman limping, but it wasn’t known if he was shot, Preciado said.

No other injuries were reported.

The sergeant said the graffiti contained obscenities and the amount of money demanded by the gunmen: $100,000.

Members of the gang Armenian Power had been trying for weeks to extort the market owner, who is also of Armenian descent, Preciado said. He was being interviewed by investigators, and his name was not released.

The owner told detectives he had a long gun and an automatic handgun, but investigators didn’t immediately recover the weapons, Preciado said.

The market is in a small strip mall in the San Fernando Valley, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

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