A man believed to be the so-called Western Bandit, suspected in a roughly three-year string of violent crimes along a stretch of Western Avenue from Hollywood to South Los Angeles, was charged Monday with two counts of murder and more than two dozen counts of attempted murder.
Patrick Watkins, 51, was arrested Thursday at his apartment in the South Los Angeles area, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
He was charged Monday with two counts of murder, 26 counts of attempted murder, 13 counts of assault with a firearm, five counts of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, four counts of second-degree robbery and felon in possession of a firearm.
The charges include the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, making him eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek death.
Watkins was being held without bail. He is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in downtown Los Angeles.
“In some ways, just calling him a bandit doesn’t begin to capture the fear and the actions of this man,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference at LAPD headquarters.
“He’s a cold-blooded killer, somebody who terrorized the streets of Los Angeles for too long,” Garcetti said. “But with this arrest, the streets of Los Angeles become a little bit safer for all of us.”
Detectives believe Watkins is responsible for the shooting deaths of a man named Larise Smith, 56, on Dec. 8, 2014, in the 2800 block of West 42nd Street; and Nathan “Cassidy” Vickers, a 32-year-old transgender woman believed to have been working as a prostitute, on Nov. 17, 2011, near Lexington Avenue and Gower Street.
He is also suspected in a number of armed robberies of individuals and businesses including convenience stores. The crimes generally occurred between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., along an eight-mile stretch of Western Avenue, according to police.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said DNA evidence helped lead investigators to Watkins. A handgun believed to have been used in the homicides and the armed robberies was recovered by police, Beck said.
LAPD Capt. William Hayes said Watkins would approach a potential victim, fire shots — many times wounding the victim — and then rob the person. He said there was no indication victims were targeted based on gender. Prosecutors said Watkins would approach victims either on a bicycle or on foot and either demand cash or shoot them.
The last crime that detectives specifically tied to Watkins was the Smith murder in December, Hayes said.
—City News Service