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Strange Cases from LAPD: Fake Guns, Real Guns and Terrorist Groping

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The Detective: Replica firearms and more

by Kate Lý Johnston

LOS ANGELES (Crosstown LA) — At Crosstown, we examine publicly available crime report data from multiple Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies. We have a robot on the team called the Detective that scans the LAPD data for anomalies. LAPD officers tag most crime reports in their system with MO codes, for “modus operandi,” Latin for operating method or style. The MO codes are shorthand for describing what happened in a crime incident.

Here are a couple recent examples of what the Detective has found, aggregated by the robot’s human assistant, Kate Lý Johnston.

Threats with fake guns are still illegal

Keep your BB guns at home, because imitation firearms are illegal to display publicly in California.

At 3 p.m. on Sept. 11, three people were arrested at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. and Wilson Pl. in Hollywood for possessing replica firearms.

The suspects used their fake guns to threaten to kill three Hispanic teenagers, according to publicly available LAPD data. One of the suspects was also experiencing homelessness.

Crime Code 931, “Replica Firearms (Sale, Display, Manufacture, or Distribute),” has been reported only three other times in 2019, and 29 times in total since 2010. In six of these cases, the weapon was described as a “toy gun,” which is classified differently from a BB gun or air pistol.

Replica guns made national news on Nov. 22, 2014 when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a police officer while playing with an airsoft replica gun at a Cleveland, Ohio playground.

More guns this week, this time for real

At 6 p.m. on Sept. 10, a 21-year-old Hispanic male was murdered by a suspect defined by the LAPD as “Suspect is/was other religious confidant” what the LAPD calls on the 500 block of San Pascual Ave. in Highland Park.

According to publicly available LAPD data, the so-called religious confidant, who was apparently mentally challenged or disturbed, stabbed with a knife and shot the victim with a handgun. The data indicate that the suspect and victim knew each other, meaning the victim could have been murdered by his own confidant.

Terrorist groups and touching genitalia

At 2:20 a.m. on Sept. 15, an 18-year-old Hispanic female was groped on a train at the Wilshire / Western Station in Koreatown. According to publicly available LAPD data, the suspect touched the victim’s genitalia over her clothing.

However, the crime was also tagged with MO code 0905, “Terrorist Group.”

The LAPD Records and Identification Division was unable to verify by Crosstown’s deadline if the code was used in error or if the incident was, indeed, linked to a “Terrorist Group.”

Crosstown covers the neighborhoods of Los Angeles in a different way — through data — to help people make their neighborhoods and the city safer, healthier, and more connected.

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