Gavin Smith: SWAT team ordered home's occupants out, neighbor says
A woman and her two children emerged from a San Fernando Valley house as it was being searched Friday in connection with the disappearance of 20th Century Fox executive Gavin Smith, a neighbor said.
The neighbor, who identified herself only as "Merma" when contacted by The Times, lives in the 8600 block of Santa Susana Place, a cul-de-sac where at least two SWAT cars arrived Friday morning.
She said L.A. County sheriff's deputies arrived on her block around 7:50 a.m. and “called out on the loudspeaker for the owners to come out.”
She said a family -- including a husband, wife and two girls -- lives in the home and “the wife and her two daughters” eventually emerged from the home when deputies served a search warrant. She said the search ended around 9 a.m.
“They didn’t seem to leave with anything,” the neighbor said of the deputies.
Down the street, Marc Gogoshian, 25, stood outside with his mother, puzzled by the news trucks that appeared in their neighborhood. He said his father goes to the gym with the husband who lives in the searched house.
"He's a nice guy," Gogoshian said of the husband.
"It's a very nice neighborhood. It's quiet."
L.A. County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed the search but stressed it remains a missing person case.
"We have no information at this time that foul play was involved," he said.
"We were looking for information that could lead us to [Smith's] whereabouts," Whitmore told The Times. "I cannot comment on specific details and the investigation is ongoing."
But one law enforcement source told The Times that serving a search warrant in a missing person case is highly unusual and it suggests the case is more complex than originally believed.
The investigation into the whereabouts of the former UCLA basketball player has been a mystery for more than a month since he left a friend’s home in Ventura County’s Oak Park neighborhood. Wearing purple athletic pants belonging to one of his sons, Smith drove away in his Mercedes the night of May 1, leaving behind his cellphone charger, shaving kit and other items.
Search teams have combed the areas where Smith was last seen, and his family spread word of his disappearance online and on local movie screens. But detectives have remained stumped as to where Smith could be.
In interviews last month, Smith's family declined to elaborate on why he was staying with the friend instead of at the family home in West Hills, but Smith's son Evan had previously tweeted that his father had left the family.
"Thoughts and prayers out to my amazing Mom and bros plz," he wrote in an April 14 message. "My dad decided to leave the family last nite. Real family sticks together."
The tweet was later deleted, but Evan Smith told E! News that his parents were not separated and were “just going through normal stuff couples go through.”
Lisa Smith called her husband "the love of my life” on Tuesday.
"It's imperative we find him," she said.
Smith is 6-feet-6, weighs 210 pounds and has a goatee and gray hair streaked with blond. He was last seen in his black 2000 Mercedes 420-E with the California license plate 6EKT044.
Investigators ask anyone with information about Smith to call (323) 890-5500.
-- Melissa Leu in Canoga Park Matt Stevens and Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Gavin Smith. Credit: Smith family