Holiday DUI Arrests and Gunfire Up

January 4, 2007

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department arrested 5 percent more motorists for drunk driving over the Christmas weekend (December 23 – 25) and 15 percent more over the New Year’s weekend (December 30 – January 1). The number of arrests for negligent discharge of a firearm dropped from 9 to 8 arrests on New Year’s Eve.

“Reports of shooting in the air increased this year, to 240, compared to last year’s 145 reports,” said LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vernon. “It rained heavily on New Year’s Eve 2005, which kept more people inside. This year it was clear, so more people were out. The good news is the 240 reports were still lower than two years ago when 376 reports were called in.”

The increase in drunk driving arrests represented a more aggressive presence by motor officers assigned over the holidays, especially between 6 PM and 3 AM. “We arrested 135 drivers over the three-day Christmas weekend, and 184 over the New Year’s weekend. Unfortunately, not everyone is getting the message about driving responsibly.”

Over New Year’s Eve, LAPD officers arrested 8 persons for shooting guns in the air. They made 14 other gun-related arrests and seized 28 guns. That compared to 9 negligent-shooting arrests last year, 21 other gun-related arrests and 13 gun seizures.

One arrest stood out from the others. Around midnight, Hollenbeck gang officers heard six shots near Valley Boulevard and Eastern Avenue, then noticed a van as it drove past them. A passenger’s arm was leaning out the window holding a gun.

They followed the van down the Long Beach Freeway, then stopped it near the City of Bell. They arrested Vincent Almenar of El Sereno and recovered an unregistered .25 caliber handgun. They also detained the woman driver.

Almenar faces charges of shooting in the air, an ex-felon with a gun, and if found guilty, gang enhancement added to the penalty.