The case of Gustavo Araiza, a.k.a. Crook, illustrates the danger of gang violence in the San Fernando Valley area around Studio City.
On Oct. 26, 1995, Araiza was driving his car when he reportedly saw 18-year-old Jorge Gonzalez in front of 11958 Hart St. Araiza reportedly made a U-turn and pulled up to the victim. Police said Araiza asked Gonzalez if he was from a rival gang. One shotgun blast hit the youth and the car sped away.
Homicide Detective Thomas Townsend, assigned to the North Hollywood division of the Los Angeles Police Department, says Araiza was a gang member. Any unpredictable gang member could go from simple vandalism to first-degree murder in an instant, the detective said.
"You have plenty of gang members that are in the North Hollywood area that are equally as dangerous and as capable of carrying out some murders, that just haven't either committed them yet but they have all these violent tendencies and arrests in the past," Townsend said.
He added, "They just haven't committed the murder, and I say 'yet' because if they keep going down the path that they're going, the high probability exists that it's eventually going to happen."
Araiza was 18 when the shooting occurred. He reportedly fled to Mexico and has not been located for 15 years.
Townsend encourages parents to be aware of the warning signs, so their teenagers can avoid following a violent path.
"If it's in a gang neighborhood and you've got a couple 12-year-old children, or a 12- and a 14-year-old ... kids want to go out and play and look for something to do and they meet people in the neighborhood," the detective cautioned. "If the parents aren't on top of these kids and rule them with an iron fist, chances are those kids are going to become gang members."
It is unlikely that Araiza would return to California, the detectives said.
If you have any information on Gustavo Araiza, contact the North Hollywood Homicide Detectives at 818-623-4075.
Suspect: Gustavo Araiza
Height: 5 foot, 6 inches
Weight: 145 pounds
Wanted on charges of murder
Victim: Jorge Gonzales
Where: 11958 Hart St.
Date of crime: Oct. 26, 1995