Driving for trouble in Silver Lake

Many residents living near Silver Lake Boulevard and Marathon Street have been left to wonder what happened when multiple gunshots and screeching tires were heard across the neighborhood at about midnight on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Police have now provided details of the shooting spree, which resulted in the arrest of four people, including a 17-year-old  who was driving  a blue compact car. What was inside the vehicle?  The list included a double-barrel, sawed-off shotgun, two handguns, bullet shell casings and a bullet-resistant vest.

Click on the link below to read the details provided by Lt. Wes Buhrmester with the LAPD Rampart Division.

“Two officers were at Silver Lake Blvd. and Bellevue Ave. when they saw a blue compact car traveling at a high rate of speed with no headlights on.  The car was on Silver Lake Blvd. southbound, and when it neared the police car, it made a sudden u-turn and then accelerated away, squealing its tires.  The officers followed the car to the 600 block of North Vendome St., where it yielded.  During the following, officers radioed their observations, and other units and the helicopter arrived to assist.  Because of the circumstances of the radio calls and the potential of firearms in the car, the occupants were removed at gunpoint, and detained.  That was also the reason for the significant police presence.

On the front passenger seat was a double barrel sawed-off shotgun (one with a barrel less than the legal minimum length of 18″), and on the front passenger floorboard were two handguns, a .44 magnum revolver and .38 revolver.  Next to the revolvers was a ballistic vest, of the type worn by officers and military.

Officers responded to the location of the initial radio calls, and found no casings, bullet impacts or wounded citizens.  The occupants of the car did not wish to be interviewed, thus it was not ascertained at the time of the arrest if shots were being fired into the air, or at a person or object.  Expended casings were found in the vehicle and in the confiscated guns.

Arrested were a 17-year-old male, who was the driver.  The other occupants were Michael Armenta, 19 years, Irene Chinchilla, 20 years, and Freddy Machuca, 23 years.  The juvenile was booked at Eastlake Juvenile Hall for the primary charge of possessing a concealable firearm in a vehicle.  The adults were booked at our Metropolitan Jail Section for the same offense.”


  1. thank you so much for getting this information, many residents were wondering what had happened.

  2. Way to go, Eastsider! As a tax paying citizen, with friends in the Rampart division neighborhood, it makes me nuts when the cops lag in being forthright. I understand they don’t want to stymie the investigation, but, come, on, I live in Burbank and heard about this before the LAPD ever fessed up.

    Keep kickin’ butt, Eastsider!

  3. I’m a little confused – when were and where were the shots fired? Also, I’m glad I wasn’t out walking my dog as I had almost done ten minutes before this went down on the 600 block of Vendome. Jeez.

    Glad there were arrests!

  4. @ Stephanie. The shots were fired at about midnight on Saturday, Nov. 27

  5. So the only thing they got charged with was possessing a concealed firearm? WTF? They were shooting in a dense residential neighborhood! Whether or not it could be proven that they were aiming at someone, can’t they at least also charge them with discharging the firearm(s)? And driving erratically with their lights off at a dangerously high rate of speed, illegal UTurn, fleeing/evading arrest, etc?

    Obviously with the cache of firearms they had, the ballistics vest, the way that they were fleeing and the fact that we all heard shots fired (and there were freshly spent casings in the car), they were seriously up to no good and a posed a grave danger to the community. Why wouldn’t they try to charge them with everything they possibly could? Even if some of the additional charges were only traffic related? I would love to hear Lt. Buhrmester’s thoughts on this…

  6. P.S. Okay, I mis-read the part about the casings but still… aren’t their additional charges that could be filed re:, at the very least, their dangerous traffic offenses? Or couldn’t they prove the firearms were discharged based upon some kind of ballistics? We all heard the shots…

  7. Sorry to keep posting but… now I’m confused. Were there or weren’t there casings in the car? Jesus’ editorial portion says there were but they are not mentioned in Lt. Buhrmester’s written details…

  8. Lt. Wes Buhrmester, Rampart Patrol Division

    Good afternoon Mr. Rizzo,

    What the officers do is book on a primary charge, that which is the most serious, in this case possessing concealable firearms in a vehicle. The District Attorney’s office, along with our detectives, will then review their actions and see what later charges are applicable. For example, one of the occupants of the car was a convicted felon, and it was believed that he possessed the body armor. That in itself is a felony. Possessing a sawed-off shotgun is also a felony, as is discharging a firearm in a negligent manner. Firearm possession by felons or known gang members are separate crimes as well. As for the driving violations, those are considered lesser-included offenses, which are used to prove reasonable suspicion for detention or show consciousness of guilt, motive or an element of a more serious offense. For example, a DUI going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone who hits a person legally in a crosswalk will not be charged with speeding or failure to yield to a pedestrian. Those actions would be offered to prove the elements of felony DUI. The DA’s office will file additional charges as applicable

    Regarding the firing of the guns, good question, and here’s our issue. No one actually saw these suspects firing the guns. Our callers reported hearing shots and hearing a car speed away. Because revolvers and a double-barrel shotgun do not expend casings when fired, none were at the scene for comparison, and no spent projectiles were located at the scene of the original call. While it’s highly likely these were the people firing the guns, the DA’s standard to go to trial is their ability to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Rest assured, however, that firearms-related crimes are very high on the priority of the DA’s office, and they seriously review and prosecute them.

    (213) 484-3400

  9. Lt. Wes Buhrmester

    As a clarification on my previous post, I wrote that revolvers and the shotgun in question do not “expend” casings when fired. A more appropriate word would be “eject.”

    (213) 484-3400

  10. Thanks so much for the clarification and detailed explanation, Lt. Buhrmester. Your proactive community involvement on this website is very appreciated. You, sir, rule!

    P.S. I’m a girl. 🙂

  11. Lt. Wes Buhrmester, Rampart Patrol Division

    My humble apologies, Ms. Rizzo! Also, I’ll get an update on what charges were filed on the subjects in the car.

    (213) 484-3400

  12. Lt. Wes Buhrmester, Rampart Patrol Division

    Good morning fellow readers,

    On November 29, 2010, the DA’s office filed one count each of possessing a concealed firearm in a vehicle and possessing an illegal firearm (the shotgun) against Machuca. Both are felonies. The DA filed one felony count each of convicted felon in possession of a handgun and convicted felon in possession of body armor against Armenta. Machuca is being held without bail on a parole hold, while Armenta’s bail is $35,000.00.

    No charges were preferred against Chinchilla. Through the juvenile court system, a petition was filed alleging one count of possession of a concealed firearm in a vehicle against the juvenile.

    (213) 484-3400

  13. thank you, lieutenant, for providing information and it is much appreciated! our community will not stand for this type of behavior. we are a walking community and almost always, no use for a car when we can walk to places. we’d like to feel safe but these bastards ruin it for everyone.

  14. Thank you to Lt. Buhnmester – it is greatly appreciate that you are involved with keeping the neighborhood informed. Thank you so much for commenting on these posts and for all your hard work. While this incident was a bit rattling, I am relieved to know that the Rampart Division was quick to respond and deal with it. I heard the shots, too, but also heard the helicopter and sirens quickly after. THANK you.

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