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Hawaiian Gardens man arrested in post-Lakers championship violence

September 30, 2009 | 10:44 am

Police and city officials this morning announced the arrest of a 24-year-old Hawaiian Gardens man who was caught on a surveillance camera loading soft drinks into a car at a gas station during the looting following the Lakers championship game.

Police said Michael Rivas, a security guard at a Whittier hospital, was taken into custody Friday at his workplace on an arrest warrant for burglary and looting. Investigators said they used still images from surveillance footage of a man loading cases of soft drinks into the trunk of a dark vehicle at the downtown Los Angeles gas station.

“In the pictures, Mr. Rivas is laughing as he loads cases of soft drinks into a car,” said Lt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department. “He wasn’t laughing when we showed up at his job to arrest him last Friday.” 

Vernon said that in the age of cellphones, video and social websites, it is almost impossible to stay anonymous. Rivas is the 20th person to be arrested on charges related to looting and other crimes that took place after the June 14 Lakers championship, police said.

The estimated loss was $300,000 in broken windows, damaged cars and stolen property, said Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz of the LAPD.

“And that’s a loss to all of us as taxpayers, government, private persons and business,” Diaz said.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes part of downtown, reminded everyone of a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the 29 crimes committed, ranging from assault to vandalism.

-- Ruben Vives

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