By Edwin Folven, 2/07/2013
LAPD seeks public’s help in finding violent suspect
Police are re-releasing information about a suspect known as the “Western Bandit”, who has targeted victims from Hollywood to South Los Angeles, after the suspect apparently struck again twice in January.
The suspect, who is described as an African American man between 35 and 40 years old, allegedly robbed and shot two victims on Jan. 8 in separate incidents in the Olympic area and in South Los Angeles. Lt. John Radtke, with the LAPD’s West Bureau Homicide Unit, said the “Western Bandit” is considered armed and dangerous, and could surface again at any time.
“This guy is still out there, and we are very concerned about public safety,” Radtke said. “All of the incidents are robberies, failed robberies and shootings.”
The first of the two most recent incidents occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 8 near the corner of Country Club Drive and Bronson Avenue, just south of Olympic Boulevard and west of Western Avenue. In that incident, the suspect allegedly robbed a victim at gunpoint, and then shot a witness who was standing nearby. Approximately one hour later, another robbery occurred at an undisclosed location in South Los Angeles where the same suspect allegedly robbed and shot another victim. Both victims who were shot were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and are recovering, Radtke said. The lieutenant added that evidence recovered at both crime scenes pointed to the “Western Bandit”, but he declined to offer specifics because of the ongoing investigation.
“We received information that he was last seen on a dark colored bicycle,” Radtke said. “Primarily, these crimes have been occurring at night, between 10 [p.m.] and 6 a.m., but these ones occurred as early as 7:30 p.m.”
The suspect primarily strikes around the Western Avenue corridor, and generally targets victims walking alone or sitting in vehicles. The crime spree began as early as 2011, and the “Western Bandit” is believed to be responsible for at least 11 armed robberies and attempted murders. He also allegedly shot and killed a transgender victim in Hollywood around 10 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2011, and likely robbed and shot at a victim in Plummer Park in West Hollywood later that same day.
The deceased victim, whose name is Nathan Henry Vickers, but who went by the name Cassidy Vickers, was robbed and shot in the 6100 block of Lexington Avenue. Vickers was reportedly standing next to a vehicle when someone inside fired several shots and drove away. Approximately 30 minutes later, a transgender woman walking Plummer Park was accosted by a suspect who demanded her purse. When the woman refused to give up her purse, the suspect fired a handgun at the victim as she ran away. The shot missed, and the victim notified police. The suspect had fled, however, by the time deputies arrived.
Police also believe the suspect robbed a victim in the Olympic area in late 2011 near 7th Street and Kingsley Drive. The crimes subsided for several months, and then he surfaced again last August, committing six robberies. He reportedly shot at a robbery victim on Sept. 27 in South Los Angeles but missed, and was connected to another robbery in that area on Oct. 10.
Police surmise that the lapse in crimes in 2012 may have occurred because the suspect was jailed on other charges, but have not confirmed the theory. A police sketch of the suspect has been released with the hope someone will recognize him. He is described as being approximately 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall with a stocky build, and usually wears dark clothing.
“Of course, someone out there somewhere knows something,” Radtke said. “It is just as important that people be aware of their surroundings and if they see something, report it.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact investigators with the LAPD’s West Bureau Homicide Unit at (213)382-9470. During weekends and off-hours, call the LAPD’s 24-hour hotline at (877)ASKLAPD.