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Police identify victims in Valley Village restaurant shooting

April 4, 2010 |  3:10 pm

The Los Angeles Police Department on Sunday released the names of the four men killed at a San Fernando Valley restaurant.

Three were pronounced dead at the scene: Hayk Yegnanyan, 25, of Glendale; Sarkis Karadjian, 26, of Sherman Oaks; and Harut Baburyan, 28, of North Hollywood. The fourth man, Vardan Tofalyan, 31, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Coroner's officials did not say where Tofalyan lived because they had not yet informed his family of his death

Police investigators said the four men were inside the Hot Spot café, a Mediterranean restaurant on Riverside Drive, when a gunman or gunmen opened fire before fleeing. Apart from the four men shot and killed, two others were injured but were expected to survive.

Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, commanding officer of operations at the Valley bureau, said all six of the  men had been targeted but that a motive for the shootings was not known.

"We don't have a crazed gunman running around North Hollywood that presents an immediate threat to public safety, to anyone in their homes or businesses in the area," Albanese said. "However, this is also not a random act of violence; this was an intentional act."

Police said the restaurant was packed with customers when the gunfire broke out at 4:40 p.m. Investigators were trying to determine the exact number of shooters and whether the gunman walked into the restaurant or was inside shortly before the gunfire broke out.

Detectives spent much of Saturday night canvassing the area for evidence, taking photographs outside the restaurant, including the sidewalk and parked cars, as well as inside. Riverside Drive was closed off between Colfax and Irvine avenues.

"This is a peaceful community that doesn't usually have to experience this kind of a shocking crime," said Councilman Paul Krekorian, whose district includes North Hollywood. "We will get to the bottom of this," Krekorian said.

Law enforcement sources, who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing investigation, said they believed the shooting might have involved Armenian gangs.

But they also said they had no evidence that the victims were involved in gangs, noting that the case was in its early stages. The shootings come after a series of killings in the last two weeks that have diminished gains made this year in reducing the city's homicide rate.

-- Ruben Vives