A man working on behalf of the Mexican mafia was found guilty today of two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with a March 2009 shooting spree that took place during a Sunday afternoon on the streets of Echo Park and Glassell Park.
The jurors convicted Andre Upshaw after about four hours of deliberation, according District Attorney spokeswoman Shiara Dávila-Morales. Jurors found special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and active participation in a gang. Deputy District Attorney Rusty Moore said the jury also found true that Upshaw committed the crime to benefit the Mexican Mafia.
Upshaw, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 9
The deadly episode was triggered by a feud within the Echo Park gang, according to early police reports. Upshaw and all the victims had known each other for several years, Moore said. On Sunday, March 1, 2009, Upshaw, who lived in Pasadena, drove his pick up truck to Echo Park, where he shot and injured William Vargas on Echo Park Avenue near Elysian Elementary School and Fix Coffee. He then drove around the corner and fatally shot Eric Zamarripa, who police have described as a leader and influential member of the gang, outside his Baxter Street home. About 30 minutes later, Uphsaw opened fire and killed Carlos Gonzalez in the 4300 block of Toland Way on the border of Glassell Park and Eagle Rock.
Zamarripa was killed only a few blocks from the home of then councilman and now mayor Eric Garcetti, who heard the barrage of gunfire. “The calm of that Sunday was ripped apart … when many of us heard the familiar ‘pop-pop-pop’ that sometimes is fire crackers but unfortunately too often is gunfire,” he said during a news conference a few days after the shootings. “As one can imagine, chaos ensued. People running around. Screams.”
Many of Zamarripa’s friends and family disputed police descriptions of him as a gang leader, saying the 38-year-old man was a devoted husband and father who worked as a carpet installer. “He was part of what I called the ‘carpet mafia,'” one Echo Park resident told The Eastsider in 2009. “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.”