At least 14 people were taken into custody Tuesday night and many more remained at large after marauding bands of young people conducted a string of robberies, assaults and acts of vandalism along Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles police said late Tuesday.
Incident commander Dennis Kato said police were inundated with phone calls beginning about 9 p.m., reporting that packs of young people were roaming along Hollywood and attacking people. Public information officer Rosario Herrera said at least one of the attacks was near Hollywood and Highland.
The robbers knocked down tourists and grabbed their phones, Kato said. In at least one incident, they hauled off a cash register from a business. There were no reports of weapons involved in the attacks.
As many as 40 robbers were believed to be involved in the attacks. Kato said the robbers splintered into smaller groups of 10 to 15 people and spread through the area, regrouping at times.
Police say the attackers appeared to be an organized group who knew one another. Officers swarmed the Hollywood area as helicopters for both police and news media circled.
More than 110 officers were brought in from other LAPD divisions to track down the robbers, Kato said, pitting police against the attackers in a massive cat-and-mouse game around Hollywood. Dozens of officers awaited orders at Wilton Place and Monroe Street.
At that intersection, two young black men were detained in handcuffs before being released with the terse explanation that they had mistakenly been stopped because they matched the general description of the robbers. Police said many robbers were still at large as of 11:30 p.m.
“Trayvon Who?” asked one robber, “Na we just took the Train up from the hood for a night of thuggin like we do every week” The robber showed off his bag of cell phones, cameras, and wallets, about a two thousand dollar haul for a few hours work.