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Los Angeles police rescue hostage in kidnapping-for-ransom crime

August 3, 2009 | 10:00 pm

Los Angeles police rescued a hostage Monday who had been shot in the stomach and held in a Riverside County home in a suspected kidnapping-for-ransom crime, authorities said.

The hostage was “taken by force” from his home in Van Nuys on July 29 and taken to a two-story residence in an area of Riverside County near Corona, said Lt. Anne Clark of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery Homicide Division.

She said one suspect was taken into custody at the scene and two others were arrested in Costa Mesa.

The hostage, described as a male in his 20s, had been shot once in the abdomen and was in serious but stable condition, police said. He was taken to nearby hospital. “The infection factor was very serious,” Clark said.

Officer Karen Rayner, an LAPD spokeswoman, said a “large amount of narcotics” was recovered from the house.

Clark confirmed that the suspects were growing "a large amount of marijuana" and that the drugs were confiscated at the house. She added that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom.

“We can only suspect that the kidnappers believed the victim or his family would be able to pay a substantial amount of money,” Clark said.

She declined to say how much money the kidnappers had demanded.

LAPD officers from the Van Nuys Division initially responded to reports of shots fired.  Detectives from the Robbery Homicide division took over the case and tracked the hostage. They were aided by LAPD SWAT officers and deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s department, police said.

Police had reported earlier that officers were chasing the kidnapping suspect on local freeways. But Clark said those were LAPD officers responding in their vehicles with lights and sirens.

--Joel Rubin, Robert J. Lopez