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News Release

Friday, September 19, 2003

Media Relations

Officer Involved Shooting with Armed Robbery Suspects


Los Angeles: On Wednesday September 18, 2003, at the request of Robbery Homicide Division/Robbery Special Section, Detective Support Division/Special Investigation Section (DSD/SIS) was conducting surveillance on an active group of armed robbery suspects. The suspects, described as three to four male Blacks, 19-25 years of age, were responsible for robbing several miscellaneous businesses including beauty shops and recycling plants in the San Fernando Valley area beginning in July of 2003.

The robbery suspects armed with handguns, wearing hooded sweatshirts, skullcaps and bandannas, would enter the businesses with handguns drawn, pointed at customers and employees. The suspects would yell demands then take money from cash registers and personal items belonging to customers. The suspects would then leave and escape in a waiting vehicle.

On September 18, 2003, at approximately 7:00 p.m. DSD/SIS detectives, while conducting the surveillance, observed the suspects park their vehicle next to a commercial establishment in the 8800 block of Reseda Boulevard. Three occupants got out of the car and entered the business. About a minute later they returned to their vehicle and left the scene. As the detectives followed the car they received information that the suspects had committed an armed robbery of the establishment.

The suspects drove south on Gaynor Avenue from Community Street in the North Hills section of Los Angeles. The driver, discovering the street had no outlet, made a u-turn and drove north toward the unmarked police cars. Detectives tried to stop the car by blocking the front and rear of it. The driver of the suspect vehicle remained seated in the car, while the other three suspects got out and ran south, pointing a handgun at the detectives. In fear for their lives, detectives fired a total of nine rounds, striking and killing two of the individuals. The other suspect who exited the car, ran south then east and was arrested by other SIS detectives several blocks away. The driver suspect surrendered to the police and was taken into custody without further incident.

Paramedics from the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the scene and pronounced two of the suspects dead. None of the detectives were injured in the incident.

The suspects have been identified as:

  1. Jerome Barnes 21 years of age resident of Granada Hills, driver of vehicle
  2. David Thomas 19 years of age resident of Arleta, deceased
  3. Byron Smith 20 years of age resident of Arleta, deceased
  4. Steve Hunnicut 19 years of age resident of Van Nuys

Barnes and Hunnicut were arrested for Penal Code Section 187 (A), Murder and booked at Central Jail.

The investigation of this incident is ongoing and is being conducted by the Department’s Critical Incident Investigation Division and Robbery Homicide Division.

For further information, contact Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586.

This press release was prepared by Officer Renee’ Montoya, LAPD Media Relations Section.