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Friday, October 31, 2014

Do you feel safe or sad now that Eric Zamarripa is gone from Echo Park?

When rumors spread Sunday night that Eric Zamarripa had been gunned down at his Echo Park home, there was shock, anguish as well as relief. This was, after all, a man considered by many to be one of the leaders of the Echo Park gang who had terrorized the neighborhood for years and threw rowdy parties at his home on Baxter Street. But this being Echo Park, where ExP gang members and hangers-on are also neighbors who attend PTA meetings and exchange polite greetings as you pump gas, many of the same residents who feared and loathed 38-year-old Zamarripa also knew another side of him. The other Zamarripa was a hard-working carpet installer and devoted father and husband who restored old cars and hosted hours-long Fourth of July fireworks displays that rivaled those at Dodger Stadium.

“He was part of what I called the ‘carpet mafia,'” said one Echo Park resident who knew Zamarripa since he was a young man. “I’m sure he was no angel. But at the same time he was a family man and took care of a whole group of people.”

Other Echo Park neighbors and police officers have less kind words for Zamarripa, whose home on Monday morning was hidden behind giant SUVs, trailers and a punching bag in the front yard. Retired LAPD officer Joe Writer considered Zamarripa one of his major problems when he was Echo Park’s senior lead officer from the 1986 to 1999.

“He was smart and he was conniving and he was sinister,” said Writer. “Eric was instrumental in knowing the happenings and the goings of the Echo Park gang. Eric, in my mind, was a major role player.”

But even Writer acknowledged that Zamarripa had another side and had the respect of many neighbors.

“I would encounter Eric at community meetings as he assimilated into the community as a father,” said Writer. “We were respectful of each others’ position. If I needed word to get out to the gang that things needed to cool down, could I go talk to Eric? Yes, I could and I did. At least he would listen to me.”

The man who had “Echo Park” tattooed across his stomach would also wave and greet neighbors as they passed by his home and took the car keys away from a house guest who had too much drink. He restored and drove his grandfather’s Model A down Sunset Boulevard during the Echo Park holiday parade – but not last December because he was in prison. Zamarripa was still with the same woman who he was sweet on 25 years ago when their names were written into a freshly poured section of sidewalk. The names are still there in front of Elysian Park Elementary School down the street from their home:

Eric
Lety
84

“He was one of these people who was trying to have it both ways,” said one resident, who recalls when Zamarripa said he wished kids would to stop tagging during a neighborhood clean up. “Frankly he just made my skin crawl.”

Will the leafy intersection of Echo Park Avenue and Baxter Street, now home to a designer coffee house and a gateway to the hills of Elysian Heights, grow more quiet without Zamarripa around? One nearby resident said the neighborhood had been noticeably quiet and more livable when he was in jail last year. Long, term, she worries.

“I’m holding my breath. Part of me wants to think that things are going to calm down without this target close by. That we can relax a bit. But another part of me says that Eric was only part of the problem.”

* Update @ 11:14 am: The Sunday afternoon shooting of three men, including Zamarripa, was “motivated by some sort of gang feud” and not a random act of violence, LAPD spokeswoman Ana Aguirre said this morning. The suspect arrested in the shooting spree, Andrew Upshaw, is expected to be arraigned Wednesday.

Police officials will discuss the shootings Thursday night at a meeting of the Echo Park Improvement Assn.

Related links:
Suspected gang member arrested in three Sunday shootings. LA Times
EP Shootings. Chicken Corner

Bottom photo from Echo Park Flickr Group



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6 comments

  1. IT AINT NEVER GIONG TO CHANGE YOU DONT LIKE IT MOVE THIES STREETS WILL ALWAYS BELONG TO THE ECHO PARK LOCOS

  2. he wasnt bad. he was the nicest most loving guy i ever met. he didnt deserve to die

  3. People shouldnt be talkin out the side of their necks. You people didnt even know who this man really was. He was one of the sweetest people you would ever meet. He was the kind of guy who would take off his coat to keep another person warm. A kind soul and a unqiue personalitly. A man who was taking before he time. You cant judge a book by its cover. Yes, he was gang related, so what? Its not like he was the only one. Yes gang viloence needs to stop. But he was an innocent man, on his own property who was shoot dead, in front of his wife and kids. So if you mother***** dont know what flavor the koolaid is dont be going around trying to taste the flavor. R.I.P Eric. We Miss You..

  4. It’s nice to see that this guy had love from some in the community. Everyone needs love. But to support someone’s actions that is involved in gang activity is silly. These comments say that he was a nice guy and loving. I’ve never met a kind and loving gang memeber. It’s common knowledge that gang members are involved with atleast one of the following activities; Drugs, vandalism, intimidation, murder, lotiering, disturbing the peace, robbery, etc.
    I don’t know if he partook in those activities, but you can’t be the leader of the gang or set without ‘putting in work’!
    And speaking on what I know, I personally knew and worked with the other victim Carlos Gonzalez. He drove and supervised for Access Services and he was gang related to the heart.

  5. THIS IS THE MOST REDICULOUS THING I HAVE EVER SAME ACROSS!!! Eric was important to so many people!!!!! and reguardless, noone deserves to be bashed after they were already robbed of their life!!! so if you dont know him on a personal note, dont speak! Eric wasnt afraid to tell you to leave when youre a drunken mess starting a fight, and because of that he was shot! so keep his name out of your mouth if youre just going to speak bad, his family has gone through to much already!

  6. R.I.P ERIC THAT WAS THE BEST MAN I EVER KNEW HE TAUGHT ME WRONGS FROM RITE AND ERIC I KNOW YOUR UP IN HEAVEN RITE NOW BUT I WANT TO TELL U THAT I MISS U

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