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Police Believe Victims Were Targeted in Deadly Valley Restaurant Shooting

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Valley Bureau Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, center, talks to the media with Councilmember Paul Krekorian, right, and North Hollywood Area Commanding Officer Justin Eisenberg, left | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist


Valley Bureau Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, center, talks to the media with Councilmember Paul Krekorian, right, and North Hollywood Area Commanding Officer Justin Eisenberg, left | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist
Police officials are calling the deadly Saturday afternoon shooting inside a Valley Village restaurant "an intentional act." Four were killed and two critically injured after shots broke out inside Hot Spot Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant on Riverside Drive near Colfax Avenue, in what some are calling an Armenian mafia or gang hit.

"This is not a random act of violence," explained Kirk Albanese, the Deputy Chief for the LAPD's Valley Bureau. "This is an intentional act and this is an investigation that will require a great deal of effort on the part of our detectives."

Around 4:40 p.m., a group of people were eating at the restaurant when the incident occurred. Albanese could not confirm details initially reported in the media. "We need to answer [questions] correctly with an investigation that does so with the facts."

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Early media reports said a white 30-year-old male, possibly Armenian, walked in with a gun, but a cautious Albanese deflected. "We don't now if it's one or more gunman," he said, citing the large number of bullets expended. Whether the suspect or suspects walked in or were already inside was unknown, he added. No official suspect description has been released.

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Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist
All victims were men. Three of them were dead on scene while three others were transported the hospital where one died. The two others were in critical but stable condition and are expected to survive.

The shooting was rumored to be tied to organized crime. According to sources to the LA Times, it "might have involved Armenian gangs" while other media gathered at the scene spoke of the Armenian mafia. Police said they had no further information in that regards, citing it's too early to say.

Those rumors were further fueled by neighbors of the eatery. "How do you run a business when there are no customers?" questioned Bettye Hicks, who lives down the street.

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Matt Edwards, a neighbor who heard the gunshots, said he immediately knew the incident happened there. "The place is so shady," he said of the place, described by the Times as a mom and pop mom-and-pop restaurant. "It opened like five years ago... I went in there to get something to eat and they didn't even know what they were doing making the food."

One employee at Marie Et Cie, a coffee house catty corner to the restaurant, said no one ever goes in and out of the business. And numerous neighbors noted how often private parties occurred there.

Addressing any concern, L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents Valley Village, said "this wasn't a random act, there isn't an immediate danger to the community."

When Tony Braswell, President of the Valley Village Neighborhood Council arrived at the scene, police immediately addressed the same concern. "Our senior lead officer was here... He came over and said 'this is not about Valley Village, it's isolated.'

Braswell then relayed information to the Council's network of neighborhood watches and informed other community groups. He said the senior lead officer also sent out an e-mail to community members.

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Outside the police perimeter, a distraught woman who said her husband was shot tried to gather information from detectives. A few small groups of Armenian men gathered throughout the night.

"We will get to the bottom of it and we will get to the bottom of it quickly," Krekorian said.

Previously on LAist: 4 Dead in Valley Village Restaurant Shooting