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Looters raid a gas station store after Lakers' win

June 15, 2009 | 12:48 pm


After the Lakers' victory Sunday night, fans swarmed into the convenience store at a Shell gas station on Grand Avenue and Olympic Boulevard and started shouting:  “Free soda! Free soda!”

The rowdy crowd of about 20 young men, many wearing Lakers apparel, entered the store about 10:20 p.m. and started grabbing bottles of water, chips, candy, chocolate and six-packs of soda off the shelves, said 27-year-old employee German Bonilla.

They loaded their arms with whatever they could grab and threw other items on the floor. They were gone less than five minutes later, Bonilla said. Bottles were shattered and cans of soda exploded on the floor. Bananas were trampled on, creating a sticky mess. A cashier in the store tried to tell the young men to leave and usher them out the door, but was unsuccessful.

“Everything happened so quick,” said Bonilla, who was working the graveyard shift at a Subway sandwich counter in the gas station. “I was just standing behind the counter. I wasn’t going to do anything because there was so many of them.”

As soon as the crowd left, Bonilla and the cashier closed the store, cleaned up and reopened about 1:30 a.m. Bonilla said he is not a Lakers fan and does not like it when they play at home because fans hungry for Subway sandwiches form a huge line afterward. But in the year he has worked the graveyard shift, he has never seen such a violent disruption as the one he saw Sunday night.

“Every time the Lakers win, it’s like ‘Oh boy,’” he said.

A video of revelers raiding the storewas posted on YouTube.

-- Corina Knoll

Photo: Jose Hernandez cleans the floor of the looted Shell gas station Monday morning. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times