By Edwin Folven, 2/09/2012
Injured Man Initially Described as a Victim Identified as the Suspect
A man who was initially thought to be a victim in a shooting and homicide at a Thai restaurant on La Brea Avenue on Jan. 27 has been arrested and charged with murder.
The suspect, Ezell Lackland, 58, a resident of West Hollywood, remains hospitalized from two gunshot wounds to the chest that an investigator said were self-inflicted. Lackland was initially taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but was transferred on Jan. 31 to the jail ward at L.A. County-USC Medical Center.
The incident occurred around 10:15 p.m. at the Pink Pepper Thai restaurant at 1638 N. La Brea Ave., south of Hollywood Boulevard. The victim, a waitress at the restaurant who has been identified as 44-year-old Jitrujee Bautet, was shot three times as she stood on the patio, and was later pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Police originally believed the shooting was committed by an unidentified suspect who fled the scene, but learned through witnesses and the investigation that Lackland was the alleged gunman. Det. Herman Frettlohr, with the LAPD’s Operations West Bureau Homicide Unit, said he did not know why the suspect shot himself, but speculated that it was an attempt to cover up the crime, or that he may have been trying to commit suicide.
Frettlohr said Bautet and Lackland knew each other, and had been involved in an argument prior to the shooting.
“It was a dispute over money, and that is all I can say,” Frettlohr said. “She was working and he came looking for her.”
Frettlohr added that it was not a case of domestic violence, and characterized the situation as a “private dispute.”
The suspect remains in stable condition, and an arraignment will be scheduled once he has recovered.