MTV coordinator was robbed of wallet before execution-style slaying, sources say
A man and woman have been arrested in connection with the slaying and a series of armed robberies.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck plans to hold a news conference Friday afternoon to explain how detectives and officers were able to capture the suspects connected to the crimes.
Jabaar Vincent Thomas, 26, and Destiny Young, 29, both of Los Angeles, were arrested Wednesday in connection with a string of robberies in which the attackers were armed with a shotgun, the same type of weapon used in the killing of Gabriel Aron Ben-Meir, 30, police officials said.
Investigators said they were able to link the pair to the Ben-Meir case from witness statements and other evidence.
Thomas also was booked on suspicion of killing a 35-year-old man, Marcelo Aragon, last month in the Pico-Union area.
The killing shocked family members, colleagues at MTV and neighbors in the tranquil neighborhood lined with shady trees and manicured front yards, just a short drive from the Miracle Mile.
According to a law enforcement source, Thomas is a reputed gang member who was released from state prison in December after serving a sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Thomas has several felony convictions, including possession of cocaine, said the source, who asked not to be named because the investigation was ongoing. Young did not appear to have a criminal history.
Thomas and Young are suspected of committing at least nine armed robberies in the last two weeks in the Mid-City, Wilshire and Southwest Los Angeles areas, said LAPD Capt. Matt Blake.
Also arrested in connection with the robberies was San Fernando Valley resident Richard Edward Anderson, 33. He has not been linked to Ben-Meir's slaying, police said.
Anderson, who has a half-dozen convictions dating from at least 1998, was on parole for being in possession of a controlled substance, according to authorities. Most of his convictions involved offenses related to drug possession and corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, authorities said.
Aragon was struck by a shotgun blast and robbed April 30 as he walked through a residential area in the 2700 block of West 12th Street, said LAPD Officer Sara Faden said.
Thomas was being held in lieu of $2-million bail, police said, and Young was being held on $1-million bail. The two were arrested as they rode in a Crown Victoria in Pico-Union, according to an LAPD source.
The vehicle was stopped because it matched a description of a car used in one of the robberies.
Detectives obtained search warrants for the vehicle and a home in South Los Angeles, which yielded evidence that allegedly connected Thomas and Young to the robberies and Ben-Meir's slaying, according to the LAPD source.
Ben-Meir had just parked his BMW when he was killed on Packard Street between Stanley and Spaulding avenues, according to police.
Residents told investigators they heard what sounded like a gunshot about 1:30 a.m., but they did not call police. A man walking his dog came across the body about 6:30 a.m.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton
Photo: Gabriel Aron Ben-Meir.