Teenage Victim Confronted and Murdered in North Hills

July 22, 1999

Thursday, July 22, 1999
On Wednesday, July 21, 1999, at approximately 3:55 p.m., Devonshire Area officers responded to a radio call regarding a shots fired incident in the 9000 block of Langdon Avenue, in the North Hills area. Upon their arrival the officers observed a male Hispanic victim lying motionless on the east sidewalk of Langdon Avenue. LAFD personnel responded to the location however, the victim expired at the scene due to an unspecified number of apparent gunshot wounds.

Preliminary information indicated the victim was confronted by two suspects as he was walking home from school. The confrontation escalated and one of the suspects shot the victim to death. Witnesses in the residential area described the suspects as male Hispanic teenagers, who fled on foot. One of the suspects was believed to have been armed with a rifle. The suspects rendered the appearance of possible gang members. The motive for the shooting remains under investigation by members of the Devonshire Area Homicide Unit.

The victim has been identified as Giovanni Avelar, a 17 year old resident of North Hills.

If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact Devonshire Area Homicide Detectives at 818-756-8291.


On Wednesday, July 21, 1999, at 3:55 pm, victim Giovanni Avelar, a 16-year-old resident of Panorama City, was walking home from school in the 9000 block of Langdon Avenue. According to witnesses, two male Hispanics approached the victim on foot as he walked southbound on the east sidewalk of Langdon. One of the suspects verbally confronted the victim regarding any possible gang affiliation. The victim declared that he did not claim membership in any gang. One of the suspects began punching the victim. The victim attempted to defend himself and the second suspect, who was armed with a rifle, fired several rounds at the victim. The victim was struck in the upper body. He collapsed on the sidewalk as both suspects fled on foot through several apartment buildings.

LAFD personnel responded and rendered aid to the victim, however he died at the scene as a result of his injuries. The crime scene was secured by responding Devonshire Division patrol officers and the Devonshire CRASH Unit. Members of the Devonshire Area Homicide Unit responded and initiated the investigation surrounding the circumstances of the shooting. Information gleaned from various witness interviews identified the shooter as Luis Acosta, an 18 year old admitted gang member.

On Friday, July 23, 1999, at approximately 7:00 p.m., the suspect’s Canoga Park residence was placed under surveillance by members of West Valley Area CRASH and SPU, as well as officers assigned to Devonshire Area. At approximately 9:00 p.m., the suspect was observed being driven from his Desoto Avenue apartment by a female driver, accompanied by one male passenger. The officers proceeded to stop the suspect’s car and arrested Luis Acosta without incident. Acosta was detained at Devonshire Station, and booked for 187(A) PC, Murder, after being interviewed by Devonshire Area Homicide personnel. The other vehicle passengers were questioned and released.

Acosta is an admitted member of the street gang, which has notoriously terrorized the residential area wherein the life of victim Giovanni Avelar was claimed. The street gang germane to this neighborhood has been the recent subject of a court ordered injunction, designed to curb the level of gang violence that has plagued the residential area for years.

Victim Avelar was a respected student at Monroe High School. Investigators have determined he did not have any known gang affiliation. The apprehension of the suspect was made possible through the efforts of Devonshire Detectives and Devonshire Patrol officers, working in conjunction with West Valley CRASH and SPU Units as well as from input from the community at large.

The case remains under investigation relative to the identity of the second suspect.

Further information will not be released at this time so as to not jeopardize the successful conclusion of the on-going investigation.

For Release 9:25 am PDT
July 22, 1999