The LAPD is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the identification and location of the driver who struck and killed a woman in her 20s during an illegal street takeover in South Los Angeles on Christmas.
The incident occurred at the intersection of Florence Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. Reports revealed that three vehicles were speeding and doing dangerous stunts when suddenly, the driver of a black Chevy Camaro lost control.
The car crashed into a crowd on the sidewalk shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, according to surveillance footage obtained by the police. The victim, who was identified by relatives as Elyzza Guajaca, got pinned between a light pole and the car. At least six or seven other people were also injured, including three who were critically injured.
The driver, who wore a red t-shirt at the time of the incident, fled the scene after getting into a scuffle with the crowd. The Camaro has been taken into custody by the police, but the driver is still at large.
The police have released additional footage of the incident in the hope of finding more leads to arrest and convict the suspect. Police are also searching for the drivers of two other vehicles, described as a white and a gray Infiniti cars.
Guajaca’s brothers described her as a family peacemaker and aspiring nurse. Louie, one of her brothers, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses, which had garnered over $23,000 in donations as of Wednesday.
“I am creating this go fund me for my sister who was struck by a car and was pronounced deceased at the hospital. My sister was an aunty to my beautiful girls who loved her so much,” he wrote on the page.
“She was a beautiful sister who loved big. She was a daughter who always wanted to be with (family) around and have family time. She was the rock to our family.
“She was just a good, goofy, funny, outgoing person. She loved all her close friends and family.”
Street takeovers spark concerns
On Tuesday, activist and author Earl Ofari Hutchinson, the president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, stated that he had witnessed part of the deadly street takeover that occurred on Sunday night.
Hutchinson urged Mayor Karen Bass and the City Council to declare a state of emergency in response to street takeovers, similar to the declaration recently made on homelessness.
“Street takeovers present as witnessed by the death at Florence and Crenshaw and numerous injuries to life and damage to property at other takeover sites in the city a grave problem for city officials,” said Hutchinson in a statement.
“It has sparked community outrage and demand for stepped-up action. A state of emergency will further empower law enforcement and citizens to concentrate time, energy and resources on this deadly problem.”
These takeovers, which have become more prevalent in recent years, pose a danger to the community, according to Detective Ryan Moreno of the LAPD. The department has suggested stricter penalties for those who participate in them.
Moreno expresses his concern as well regarding the tendency to turn a blind eye to violent incidents.
“People are getting ran over, hit, people are getting attacked, assaulted. We’re waiting, like, ‘Where’s the police report?’ and they never come forward,” Moreno said.
“It’s kind of sick in a way. This culture is, that’s kind of what they do. It’s kind of like a code, I guess, they go by, where somebody would get beaten nearly to death and they don’t come forward to be a victim.”