By Edwin Folven, 1/24/2013
Suspect later arrested; footage subsequently edited
A 19-year-old man was shot and killed outside a Hollywood nightclub on Jan. 13, and the incident was videotaped and posted by TMZ, graphically displaying a brutal murder, according to the victim’s uncle, Jason Andrews.
An arrest has been made in the case, and TMZ later edited the posting to omit the segment showing the victim. Andrews, however, said he still wants an apology from TMZ.
“It made it worse for the entire family. My mother, my brother and some other family members were in the hospital with Andre and the video was already up. He is not a celebrity like TMZ usually deals with. He was just a normal kid who had recently graduated high school and was ready to start his first job,” Andrews said. “They could have not included my nephew lying on the ground dying. Being viewed by millions of strangers is very disheartening and unfortunate.”
Prior to the video being edited, Andrew created an online petition through the website Change.org demanding that the video be removed from TMZ’s website. Approximately 200,000 people reportedly signed the petition, and sent messages through Twitter calling for the video’s removal. According to Change.org, the demands prompted more than 25 advertisers such as Chase, LensCrafters, Hanes, Toyota and H&R Block to remove their advertisements from the TMZ website. Requests for comment from TMZ were not answered.
“It caused us a lot of pain,” Andrews added.
The suspect who allegedly shot and killed Lowe outside the Empire Club in Hollywood on Jan. 13 was arrested three days later in Las Vegas. He has been identified as Robert Earl Thomas, 22, and was taken into custody on Jan. 16 by agents with the Las Vegas Metropolitan-FBI Fugitive Task Force and the Los Angeles Police Department. Lt. Marc Reina, with the LAPD’s Hollywood Division, said detectives had been working around the clock to locate Thomas after he allegedly shot Lowe during a fight involving 40 to 50 people. Witnesses helped police identify Thomas, a resident of Los Angeles, who was traced to a friend’s house in Las Vegas. Thomas has been charged with murder.
“It was a great team effort between the Hollywood officers who first responded, the Hollywood detectives, the West Bureau Homicide Bureau team and the FBI,” Reina said. “They worked non-stop to get him.”
The fight occurred around 2 a.m. in front of the nightclub at 1716 N. Cahuenga Blvd. Investigators are still unclear about what started the melee, but media reports indicated that some women had been involved in an altercation inside the club, and then the fight erupted as patrons left around closing time. In addition to Lowe, a female victim suffered a graze wound to the leg.
Reina said police are still trying to identify numerous other individuals involved in the fight. Anyone with information is asked to call investigators with the LAPD’s West Bureau Homicide Unit at (213)382-9470. During weekends and off-hours, call (877)LAPD247.