Photo by Gustavo Castillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Gustavo Castillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Two gang members suspected in a series of six shootings in Echo Park have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of attempted murder, authorities said Wednesday.

The shootings, all committed with a .45-caliber handgun, occurred between June 9 and 27, with the last resulting in a graze wound to a male victim’s head, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

No one was struck by gunfire in the five previous shootings, most of which involved shots being fired at moving vehicles, police said.

“The LAPD Northeast Area Gang Enforcement Detail and Gang Impact Team detectives developed intelligence that focused on the gang possibly responsible for the series of shootings,” according to police.

About 11:15 p.m. June 27, three males in a parking lot in the 1400 block of Glendale Boulevard were approached by four men between 20 and 30 years old, one of whom was armed with a handgun, police said.

“Words were exchanged between the two groups, which was followed quickly by gunshots,” police said. “One of the victims suffered a grazing gunshot to the head, which was non-life-threatening. The victims and the suspects all fled the area.”

An investigation by Northeast Station patrol officers led to the detention of a possible suspect and Northeast Area Gang Impact Team detectives were able to positively identify the four suspects from the shooting, according to the LAPD.

“The shooter, Christopher Meza, and Benjamin Orellana, both gang members, were arrested,” police said. “A search warrant was served on Meza’s residence and a .45 caliber handgun, the same caliber as the evidence that was recovered at each of the six shooting scenes, was recovered. Preliminary forensic analysis has potentially linked all of the shootings.”

Both men were arrested June 28 and are facing three counts of attempted murder, police said.

Meza, 26, was being held in lieu of $3.24 million bail at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles and Orellana, 22, was being held in lieu of $3.09 million at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic. Both are due in court in downtown Los Angeles on July 13, according to sheriff’s online jail records.

“Gang detectives are conducting additional follow-up investigation with the victims and reviewing video evidence that would enable the District Attorney’s Office to consider filing charges on the two outstanding suspects,” according to the LAPD.

Anyone with information that could help investigators was urged to call Lt. John Cook at (323) 561-3335.

After-hours or weekend calls should be directed to (877) LAPD-24-7. Anonymous tips can be provided through Crime Stoppers by calling (800) 222- TIPS.

–City News Service

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