Shots Erupt at Local Gang Party

January 12, 2007

Los Angeles: An unidentified 40-year-old man was shot by a police sergeant on January 10, 2007, following reports of shots fired at a Masonic lodge, located in the 9700 block of Avalon Boulevard. One other man was seriously wounded from a shooting that occurred inside the lodge just minutes before the police shooting.

Around 12:30 A.M., police received complaints of a large party and fighting at the Masonic lodge. Sergeant Cesar Mata, 39, arrived first and spoke to the property manager, who had rented the building to a group for a party.

Mata left, then returned a few minutes later to check on the party. As he stood by with another sergeant, gunfire erupted inside the building. Between 15 and 20 shots could be heard from outside.

Party-goers began pouring out the doors. The first man out was already shot in the head and staggering. A second and third man followed. The third man who came out reached into his pockets as he moved toward the wounded man. At that point, Sergeant Mata drew and fired his weapon. While the initially injured man survived, the man shot by police later died. No gun was found on his body.

As the party continued to clear, officers detained 30 to 40 local gang members, and found a shotgun and three other handguns scattered within the lodge building. It was estimated that as many as 200 persons had attended the party. Police later found that dozens of bullet holes pockmarked the walls inside the building.

This was the fourth officer-involved shooting of the new year.

Sergeant Mata is a 17-year veteran of LAPD, and he is assigned to the Southeast Police Station. Force Investigation Division is investigating the shooting.