Police have arrested a 16-year-old who they believe led the flash mobs in the Crenshaw District and Hollywood last week. The protests sparked by the George Zimmerman verdict escalated into robberies and assaults. Online posts from the teen allegedly asked people to gather to create harm. Lolita Lopez reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on July 24, 2013.
A 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of inciting a riot in connection with a series of robberies and acts of vandalism carried out earlier this month by what authorities described as a violent "flash mob."
The boy, arrested Monday on the misdemeanor charge, is accused of using social media to organize the July 16 gathering of more than 30 people, some of whom stole cell phones and other items during a rampage on the Walk of Fame. Nine other teens were charged earlier this month in the series of robberies.
The 16-year-old also is being investigated in connection with crimes committed after a peaceful prayer vigil -- organized in response to the George Zimmerman trial verdict -- one day earlier in the Crenshaw area, police said. Officers issued an order to disperse after a violent splinter group broke off from the vigil participants, police said.
"It's unacceptable what happened in Southwest and Hollywood," said LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese. "A great deal of work has occurred in terms of social media and will continue to occur, so that we can understand what occurred out there as thoroughly as we possibly can.''
The nine individuals -- six males and three females, ages 16 and 15 -- arrested in the Hollywood case were charged with robbery for their roles in the wave of violence that began near Cahuenga Boulevard and spread along the Walk of Fame toward Hollywood and Highland. Cell phones, a wallet and a skateboard were stolen, and storeowners reported acts of vandalism.
The subjects pleaded not guilty July 19. Four were released to their parents and five remained detained Tuesday.
They are scheduled to return to court next month.
Walk of Fame visitors, store employees and police said a group of about 30 individuals knocked over pedestrians and signs as they stolen phones and other items. One store employee told NBC4 they "grabbed as much as they could" from his Hollywood Boulevard store.
Police also released a business surveillance image (right) of a subject wanted in connection with a robbery at Skooby's Hot Dogs during the July 16 rampage. The individual took money from a tip jar at the restaurant in the 6600 block of Hollywood Boulevard.
The Walk of Fame in Hollywood was the site of at least two other attacks in the last three months, including a fatal stabbing.
A woman was stabbed to death June 18 near Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue after she refused to pay a homeless man for taking a photo of his sign. One of three men arrested in the case faces a murder charge.
In May, a transgender woman was attacked by at least four men on Hollywood Boulevard. The group kicked the victim on the ground before running away on the Walk of Fame, police said.
One man was arrested in that attack.
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