A store owner was shot to death, yesterday, in the eastern portion of the Los Feliz neighborhood. Police initially received reports around 11:40am of a shooting inside the 98 Cent Store on Hollywood Boulevard between Normandie and Mariposa. When officers arrived they found a man with multiple gunshot wounds and declared him dead at the scene. Police searched the surrounding area for 10 hours with no trace of a suspect.
The victim is 62-year old Yeprem Khotsuryan. Neighbors described Khotsuryan as a kind family man who had been planning on selling his store and retiring. He leaves behind a wife and two sons, who would all apparently help out in the store from time to time.
An employee at a neighboring establishment walked into the 98 Cent Store after he heard a crashing sound. It was then that he discovered Khotsuryan lying motionless on the floor. Police say the suspect was wearing a grey sweatshirt over a white t-shirt and a white medical mask. Khotsuryan appears to have been alone in the store, which has no interior surveillance cameras. The LAPD has not publicly established a motive, nor have they said whether the store was robbed.
Los Feliz is not a neighborhood where violent crime is commonplace. During the previous six months only 35 violent crimes have been reported, 23 of which were robberies. Even though the section of Los Feliz where the homicide occurred is closer to more crime-ridden neighborhoods like East Hollywood and Hollywood, it is primarily subject to property crime. In fact, a homicide has not occurred in all of Los Feliz for well over a year.
However, this particular section of Los Feliz and surrounding areas have been the scene of a protracted power struggle between the Armenian Power street gang and White Fence, a predominantly Hispanic gang with an allegiance to the Mexican Mafia. Any connection to the Khotsuryan murder and gang violence is pure speculation at this point. But the brazen nature of the crime coupled with the LAPD’s lack of detail concerning motive and the fact that the victim was shot multiple times, does make it seem like it was more than a botched robbery.
UPDATE: Local residents reported that the FBI was on the scene in the early evening of April 29.