UPDATE ‘Flash mob’ on Venice boardwalk ends in shooting- LA Times

UPDATE: 4-18-2011 5:54 p.m. – Today in response to inquiries by various news sources and LAPD, Venice311 delivered over 50 pages of twitter logs showing tweets, and requests for re-tweets by people calling together the “flash mob” gathering in Venice on Saturday where a gang related shooting occurred. The request went out Friday night and was re-tweeted all day Saturday. Many of the tweets as shown below include specific gang related language. LAPD was also provided with the custom software information that assisted in monitoring and retrieving the tweet information. ABC7 news will be providing coverage also Monday at 6 p.m.

Inaccurate reports have circulated that this event may have been an officer involved shooting which is incorrect. Some video footage has shown an LAPD beach unit ATV backfiring while pushing crowds back, which some inaccurately interpreted as gunfire. With hundreds at the scene, and extra officers deployed the accusations of this involving LAPD personnel is not based on any facts or credible evidence. For questions please call LAPD Pacific Division at 310-482-6334.

4-17-2011 – Where “flash mobs” originally started out as dance or artistic gatherings promoted through social media, law enforcement nationwide has reported the trend now being implemented in crime and criminal diversion activity. Venice311 spoke to the LA Times for the following article and has been in contact with law enforcement both at the scene of the shooting, and in discussions with the violent crimes task force. Communications between groups on twitter and circulated via twitter regarding meeting at the basketball courts on Friday, the night before the shooting included gang related language, and police at the scene of the shooting and at the subsequent vehicle stop near McDonalds on Lincoln confirmed the long standing red and blue rivalry as part of the Saturday Ocean Front Walk incident.

The tweets exchanged and promoted by these twitter users included requests to retweet meeting at Venice Beach Bball cts on Saturday

The tweets exchanged and promoted by these twitter users included requests to retweet meeting at Venice Beach Bball cts on Saturday

 

From The LA Times:
A young man was in critical condition after being shot in the head and side, police say. The gathering was apparently organized via Twitter.

Crowds of people watch as members of the Calypso Tumblers perform along the Venice Beach boardwalk Sunday morning, near the spot where a man would be shot later in the evening. (Rick Loomis, Los Angeles Times / April 17, 2011)

A man was in critical condition after a shooting Saturday on the Venice boardwalk that sent hordes of onlookers running pell-mell into the streets, police said Sunday.

“It looked like a human tidal wave,” said Spencer L. Sirlin, 27, a Hollywood booking agent who witnessed the attack.

The victim, in his mid-20s, was struck in the head and side and taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said Los Angeles police Sgt. Felipe Vasquez, of the Pacific Division’s beach detail.

The man’s name and updated condition were not available Sunday evening. No arrests have been made, Vasquez said.

The shooting occurred amid a “flash mob” crowd that was organized at least in part over Twitter, Vasquez said.

Alexandria Thompson, a member of a neighborhood watch group called Venice311, said she notified police midmorning Saturday of the online effort to pull together a “flash mob” at the shoreline basketball courts along Ocean Front Walk.

“Venice beach bball ct going up tomorrow,” read the Twitter alert, which was retweeted with embellishments over and over as the day progressed, Thompson said.

Vasquez said he called in reinforcements as the crowd, including young men in gang attire and tattoos, swelled in the late afternoon. About 6:30 p.m., six to eight shots rang out at 17th Avenue and Ocean Front Walk, Vasquez said. The victim ran half a block to an alley where he collapsed, Vasquez said.

The crowd scattered through the neighborhood, with some hiding in nearby shops. The bus stops were mobbed with people trying to flee by public transportation, said Jessie Lieberson, a clerk in a vintage clothing store.

Thompson, 43, said some in the mob ran away backward so they could continue to watch the action.

“They were laughing. It was all part of the event for them,” she said. “There’s a kind of free-for-all down here. Everybody is trying to get away with as much as they can.”

Vasquez said it was not the first flash mob assembled at the boardwalk through social media. A false report that a major hip-hop star would be shooting a video drew a gaggle of break dancers and onlookers earlier this year. The other incidents did not end in violence, he said.

But some business owners said disturbances have been escalating. And they feared the trend would scare off the visitors who have made Venice one of Southern California’s most popular destinations.

Lieberson doubted the latest incident would tarnish Venice’s louche charm.

“The tourists are coming from overseas; they like the legacy of dropouts and hippies,” said the 23-year-old London native. “Our business has been really good lately.”

Simone Shellmire, 23, a model who lives in North Hollywood, said the attack made her uncomfortable, but would not keep her from a scene she’s enjoyed since she was a young girl.

“This is my sweet spot,” Shellmire said. “The cool music on the beach, the drum circle. … It’s diversity. I love coming here.”

gale.holland@latimes.com

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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