Police blame Echo Park shootings on internal gang feud

The Sunday afternoon shootings that left two men dead and another injured were the result of a feud among members of the Echo Park gang, police said today.

“They were all gang members and they are all part of one gang – the Echo Park gang,” said Northeast Division Captain Bill Murphy during an afternoon news conference at the Metropolitan Dispatch Center downtown. The alleged shooter, Andre Upshaw of Pasadena, is also associated with the same gang.

Murphy and others present declined to say what the feud might be about. While the notion of a dispute within the gang has raised fears of further bloodshed, Murphy said that a feud with a rival gang probably would have been more likely to trigger violent retaliation. The shootings claimed the lives of Eric Zamarripa, 38, who is considered one of the leaders of the Echo Park gang, and Carlos Gonzales, 37, of Highland Park. William Vargas, 33, of Echo Park was injured.

“Many of these residents of the community have experienced gun violence between rival gangs,” Murphy said. “We want to assure the community that, this being an internal conflict, there is far less of a threat to the community of any random shootings occurring in the future.”

Other details from today’s news conference:

* More than 30 detectives flooded Echo Park to interview witnesses and other residents following the shootings. One patrol car has been dedicated to focus on Echo Park Avenue, said Murhpy.

* There are an estimated 158 Echo Park gang members but only about 98 are active. That may still sound like a lot but the Echo Park gang remains relatively small. The Avenues Gang, for example, claims about 1,000 members.

* Councilman Eric Garcetti, who lives only about three blocks from the Echo Park shooting scene, said he heard the gunshots from his home. “The calm of that Sunday was ripped apart, though, when many of us heard the familiar pop-pop-pop that sometimes is fire crackers but unfortunately too often is gunfire. As one can imagine, chaos ensued. People running around. Screams.”

Police will be present to discuss the shooting Thursday night at a community meeting.

Related Links & Posts:

Audio of LAPD News conference on shootings. The Eastsider
You don’t have to live in Echo Park anymore to be part of the gang. The Eastsider
Do you feel safe or sad now that Eric Zamarripa is gone from Echo Park. The Eastsider
Suspected gang member arrested in three Sunday shootings. LA Times
EP Shootings. Chicken Corner

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