Execution-style killing at L.A. Live rattles downtown venue

Restaurant workers wiped tables and prepped menus at L.A. Live on Friday morning, readying for the typical weekend rush of concertgoers, diners and visitors at the downtown complex.

Visitors stopped to admire a Christmas tree in the center of an open-air ice rink, either unaware or unconcerned that a man had been gunned down inside one of the nearby restaurants three days earlier.

“I’ve seen people get beat up around here, but nothing like that,” said L.A. Live regular Polo Palomarez, 67. “But most people don’t know what happened.”

Home to the Peacock Theater, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, a movie theater and Crypto.com Arena, the entertainment complex is a hub of activity — with thousands of visitors and patrons on any given night.

Yet L.A. Live, which first opened in late 2007, has been known as a safe area, with uniformed police and security visibly patrolling the vicinity. Tuesday’s shooting was the first killing there.

“I was like, L.A. Live? This is a very safe place,” Capt. Raul Jovel of the Los Angeles Police Department told The Times. “It’s a family-friendly place. There’s an ice rink that’s open until midnight here every day. I’ve been here with my family myself.”

A spokesperson for L.A. Live did not respond to a request for comment.

Palomarez, who travels from Santa Clarita to eat and visit the complex’s sports bars, said he was surprised to hear of the shooting. But it wasn’t enough to keep him away.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he said, turning and nodding toward downtown. “More people get killed out there.”

Just after 6 p.m. Tuesday, police say, a masked gunman in dark clothes exited a car parked on Figueroa Street outside of Fixins Soul Kitchen, walked into the restaurant and began shooting at a 43-year-old man.

The victim collapsed, and the suspect fled as people tried to help him. A woman also suffered a graze wound.

Few additional details about the brazen killing have been released. Officials have not identified the victim publicly, pending notification of his family.

LAPD Capt. Scot Williams said the suspect appeared to target the male victim. Williams, whose Robbery-Homicide Division detectives are handling the investigation, said the suspect appeared to have taken measures to conceal his identity, including covering his face at the time of the shooting.

The suspect fled the scene in a vehicle described as a white Ford Escape, he said.

At Fixins, there was little sign of what had occurred, except for a patrol car parked nearby.

Since Shaquille’s closed down during the pandemic, Fixins has been a go-to in downtown for Southern staples and cocktails mixed with Black-owned labels such as Uncle Nearest whiskey.

The interior nods to Black food culture with art that celebrates popular ingredients such as Crystal Hot Sauce. Early-aughts hip-hop plays overhead, attracting out-of-towners who head to L.A. Live for games and concerts. Many patrons are familiar with Fixins through its original location in Sacramento or because of owner Kevin Johnson, a three-time NBA All-Star with the Phoenix Suns and former mayor of Sacramento.

Johnson did not respond to requests for comment.

On Thursday night, two LAPD officers idled in front, with an extra security guard nearby. The line for a Trilogy Tour performance by Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin and Pitbull at Crypto.com Arena still wrapped around the block.

Fixins, though far from empty, seemed less crowded than usual. Patrons at the bar focused on the “Thursday Night Football” game while other families enjoyed unusually short wait times before being guided to their tables.

“It’s slow,” said one bartender, who requested anonymity to comment. “And it feels kind of weird to come into work like it didn’t happen, when it did.”

The restaurant’s manager also declined to comment.

Abbey, a 19-year-old concertgoer who declined to give her last name, sat alone waiting for friends on a bench. She said she hadn’t heard about the shooting. Still, it wouldn’t have stopped her from traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles to see Puzzle at the Novo.

“There’s so many shootings every day,” she said, including near her home in Seattle. “Unfortunately stuff like that just happens, but I’m not not going to come.”

Greg Hankins, an L.A. live security guard who is normally stationed elsewhere in the complex, has been reassigned to Fixins for the time being, but said he isn’t worried about another violent incident.

“They didn’t come in here shooting at everyone randomly, it wasn’t a mass shooting,” Hankins said. “If he would’ve come in here shooting at everyone then it’d be something to be on edge about, but he came in for one person, execution-style and it’s sad, but it is what it is.”

Hankins paused to open the door for a family exiting Fixins. He fist-bumped the kid and called out, “I missed you on the way in, but I won’t forget you on the way out.”

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