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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The life of an aspiring Eagle Rock chef cut short by gang violence

Andrew Stittiams was studying to be a chef at L.A. Trade Tech/Photo courtesy Cindy Salazar

By Lucy Guanuna

Budding chef Andrew Stittiams wore his culinary uniform proudly. The 19-year-old Eagle Rock resident was studying to be a chef at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and had landed his first job as a prep-cook this summer at the Hollywood Bowl, said Cindy Salazar, a friend of Stittiams. He was “truly one of the good guys, a person you always wanted good things to happen to.” But on Veterans Day, just days before he was to leave on a camping trip to celebrate his 20th birthday, Stittiams was fatally stabbed not far from his home by a gang member who demanded to know what gang Stittiams was from.

Stittiams was not affiliated with a gang but the two suspects that have been arrested and charged with his murder are members of a Highland Park street gang, said Capt. Jeff Bert of the LAPD Northeast Division. Police are currently investigating possible motives, prior feuds as well as this being a deadly case of mistaken identity.

Salazar said that Stittiam’s other friends that she has met at his sidewalk memorial have said the main suspect in custody is a well-known gang member was would bully a lot of the local kids. Some residents have also raised concern that the murder may have been racially motivated since Stittiams was African-American and the suspects were Latino. But Bart said that there is no indication that race played a role in the murder. There were no racial comments made at the time the incident took place on Figueroa Street near Yosemite Drive, he said.

He said the two suspects, who were arrested Nov. 13, belong to a Highland Park-area, Latino gang that is not known to be anti-black.  One count of murder has been filed against each defendant with gang enhancements. Bert declined to identify the suspects.

“Its horrifically sad,” Bert said. “It’s completely senseless and frustrating to us at Northeast, but we think we have the right people in custody, and that’s the silver lining in all of this.”

Related Link:

Sidewalk memorial for Stittiams includes Happy Birthday wishes.

Lucy Guanuna, a journalism student at Cal State Northridge, has reported on a variety of issues, including business, education and social justice movements in her native Los Angeles. Her work has been published in the Daily Sundial, L.A. Activist, and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

34 comments

  1. How incredibly sad.

  2. Yea yea you live in the big city this is just part of living here… if you got a problem you can move back to Iowa. All I got to say is innocent until proven guilty the truth will come out in the end. Quit smearing the accused names in the mud before you know all the facts.

    • Go crawl back under the rock you came from low life.

    • The only name mentioned was that of the innocent victim, troll. I’ve lived in LA my whole life. A fatal stabbing is NOT “just part of living here”. A tragedy is a tragedy. Maybe you wouldn’t feel the same if it was your own family member. “Oh, well, mom. You live in LA. Deal with it.”

    • When your mom gets stabbed in the face at the bus stop, I’ll remember to remind you of your stupidity. You can bet on it.

    • That sort of thinking is contributing to the problem. This is not “part of living here”. It happens anywhere that degenerates populate the Earth. This is so senseless & such a shame. Down goes another person who was pursuing a passion & contributing to society by the hand of someone who cared more about “where you from?” than he does about contributing to society. No one is smearing any names. This dip shit did that on his own.

      • Obviously you are all speaking on something of which you have no idea. I know the accused and though they may have been through some struggles in the past they are good people. They were doing what they could do to better their lives they were good people. In the end you will all see they did nothing wrong. The only thing racist about this situation is the Eastsiders articles

        • Please, enlighten us oh wise YJC. Tell us about how that horrible awful cook must have purposely fallen on that knife of those two innocent suspects, er, I mean victims.

          Why don’t YOU and your two buddies move to %$#! Iowa. Then you can all take turns stabbing each other while the rest of us here try to live our lives peacefully, and with less 3 neanderthals.

      • Only thing this incident proves is that gang injunctions don’t work. We must work as hard as we can to ban all racist gang injunctions.

        • Nope again YJC.

          “One count of murder has been filed against each defendant with gang enhancements.”

          ….means they won’t be getting a slap on the wrist.

          They killed an innocent kid, let them rot.

        • The only thing this incident proves, it’s time that the city of Los Angeles starts treating the gang problem like the Federal Government treats terrorists. Drone strike their flojo , degenerate, good for nothing asses

        • I’m having a really hard time accepting YJC isn’t just trolling to generate frustration. What a ridiculous set of comments you are posting here. How heartless and cruel to use some innocent man’s life for your own odd purposes.

          • Yeah I think you guys should ignore this YJC impostor. As opposed to the gang injunction as they are any official member of that group would not make comments like this.

          • Yes, YJC is an obvious troll.

            ***
            Eastsider –
            Thanks for the well-sourced followup article.

    • Look at the smiling face of student standing in front of his school. Your comments do not make sense!

      • the great corn-JULIO!

        Dammm. I was supposed to call them out every time they posted.

        People that YJC comment above is FAKE. Made by a libeler!

        I think this dude is trying to get public support against the YJC. An organization that helps empower the youth. In doing so it helps the members be part of something and to actually do something productive. In doing so it will help solve the gang problem from within.

        I am not a member of the YJC but I like them.

  3. This story demonstrates why it is crucial for LAPD Northeast Division to remain focused on reducing gang-related crime to the fullest extent possible. Some people may have given up on themselves and claim that this is all “just part of living here”, but residents with intelligence and a sense of pride in their communities will always do their best to support a safe and peaceful environment for their families. My condolences go out to the family; this was a senseless crime.

    • Well said Joe. This was a terrible loss, My condolences to Andrew’s family & friends.

      Gangs are not a ‘culture’ or something to accept. they are something to stand up to and stop.

  4. Montecito Heights Resident

    This is just sad!! A kid working hard on a career and it’s all taken away by an ignorant gang member.. This stupid gang crap in North East needs to end already!! Residents need to stand up to this cowards and push them out of our neighborhoods!!

  5. My daughter went to school with Andrew. They weren’t friends, but being one of the few African American students at Eagle Rock High, they knew each other by sight and would say ‘hello’. This could have so very easily been my son (also an Eagle Rock grad). My deepest condolences go out to Andrew’s family, especially his parents. May justice prevail, and those responsible get the punishment they deserve for extinguishing such a bright light. RIP.

  6. So Sad. You can just see the sense of pride and accomplishment in his smile. I have friends that have gone through culinary school to become chefs and it is a ton of work; I feel so bad for his friends and family. Seems like he was a good kid.

  7. Why are the police declining to release the names of the accused?
    Names… we want names!!

    • The accused are probably minors if they don’t want to release their info.

    • Why do we want names? There’s nothing useful the general public can do with names, other than trying to extract vigilante justice on their own. In a civilized society, we let the police arrest people, and the justice system convict the guilty, and then punish them according to the laws. There’s no reason for the public to add extra punishment. There are so many cases where individuals have had their names falsely attached to crimes, and lives ruined. I’m not saying that this is one of those times, but we should encourage the police not to engage in trial by media, but instead to let the justice system work correctly.

      • argh…
        As much as it’s hard to admit, you’re right Kenny.
        Well, when they are convicted, I’d like to know.
        Additionally, I would like to know who the convicted (but released) local gang members are.. in order to keep an eye out.

  8. Gang violence needs to end everywhere. Makes me so sad to read stories like this.

  9. This makes me sick. You can look at this kid’s picture and tell he was a good soul. Shame on all of us for getting distracted by gang injunctions, racial arguments, illegal immigration, and all of the other issues that divide us and allowing this kid to get slaughtered on a high profile intersection during rush hour in broad daylight.

    No more excuses from the community activists. Zero tolerance for the actions of people who terrorize our community.

  10. My condolences to Andrew’s mother who I have the pleasure of working with. It’s horrible how this kid could get stabbed during the day in pure daylight. I work in the East LA area and I’m not a gang member but i know I get dogged at sometimes and I hope to never get attacked by mistaken identity. I grew up in Rampart District, Echo Park and Pico Union and I have been lucky to avoid any real danger but their is always that fear. R.I.P. Andrew

  11. Thank you for posting a follow up Eastsider. I pass the memorial daily and it is obvious that Andrew was loved by many. My heart goes out to his family. The photo shows a young man ready to make his mark on the world. He looked happy and proud. Such a shame to lose him. RIP Andrew.

  12. So incredibly sad. Andrew was just starting out on his journey in life. I love our neighborhood and to know something like this has happened here is heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers to Andrew’s family.

  13. Andrew Stittiams. A permanent memorial should be placed at the place where he was so brutally attacked and killed, displaying his name and the name of the gang the attackers belonged to.and detailing the senselessness of this crime. I’m so angry about this.

    My condolences go out to his family and friends.

  14. Every homeowner and every business in the area should have wifi cameras on their property. It will take a concerted effort to get rid of the gang banging low lives forever. Soon to be indicted Huizar is not interested in making life better for human beings. Vote his ghetto ass out of office. Elect somebody that genuinely cares about quality of life.

  15. My condolences to the young man’s family. I find it incredibly sad that a young man with ambition and a bright future is murdered by some gang bangers (a.k.a domestic terrorists). This may very well fall on deaf ears, but I’ll comment on it anyway: These gang members might benefit from a change of attitude. A change of attitude that encourages education, upward mobility and a sense that there is a bigger world out there where there are opportunities for anyone wanting to put the effort, safricifice and hard work it takes to attain success.

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