Mistaken hand signals may have contributed to fatal Silver Lake road rage shooting

Shooting suspect Jose Beltran

While driving through the darkened streets of Silver Lake earlier this month, restaurant worker Juan David Vasquez Loma motioned the driver of the car behind him to pass.  But the driver of that car, 18-year-old Jose Beltran, who is involved in the La Mirada Locos gang, may have misinterpreted Loma’s hand gesture as a rival gang sign shortly before he fired a handgun that mortally wounded Loma, police said.  A homicide detective said today that those mistaken hand signals may have played a role in the August 7 road rage killing of Loma, a 20-year-old Mexican immigrant who was driving coworkers home.  Loma was not a gang member. Beltran, who grew up in the Silver Lake area, was charged on Monday with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Police said they believe Beltran became enraged when Loma’s pick-up truck passed him at the intersection of  Micheltorena and Effie streets.  Beltran was making hand gestures as he pursued Loma’s vehicle down the hillside streets, according to Dect. Jose Carrillo with the Northeast Division.  “He was trying to threaten the victims,”  Carillo said.  After reaching Silver Lake Boulevard near Scott Place, Beltran drove up alongside Loma’s truck and fired a shot, police said. The bullet struck Loma in the head. He was taken off life support a week later. Two other passengers in the truck were not injured.

Beltran was arrested by Rampart Division officers on Aug. 19 during a traffic stop.  Officers found a gun under the driver’s seat but  police do not know if the weapon was used in the Loma shooting, Carillo said.
The LAPD is still seeking more information on Beltran and the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call the Northeast Division homicide detectives at (213) 847-4261


  1. Silver Lake Resident

    I travel this route regularly often two times per day and have experienced numerous road rage incidents at the hands of speeders, stop sign blowers and tailgaters. It has been getting worse and worse and I have had men pull up to my car and stop, honk or make profane gestures to me. If I were LAPD I would have officers there monitoring the speed in the neighborhood and people running stop signs. It isn’t safe.

  2. i hate this guy so much. wtf is wrong with people?

  3. @joanned,

    It’s part of human nature unfortunately. History has shown we can’t escape it.

  4. Bullsh..

    I don’t shoot at people that drive around me. This has nothing to do with human nature. It has everything to do with little scared boys with guns acting tough. What a pussy.

  5. It’s become human nature to judge and condemn a person based solely on the preliminary statements released by law enforcement.

  6. Look at the world, look at history, look at today. I see no evidence that human nature has changed, only that in some instances there are cultures that try to prevent the bad side of human nature through deterrence, etc.

    Doesn’t mean it still doesn’t exist or that it is 100% preventable.

    Gang culture isn’t much different than tribe/territorial violence, and those have innocent victims also.

    Some humans like conflict and violence, that’s unavoidable unless you can change human nature.

  7. what a god damn loser this guy is. hope he gets a broom shoved up his ass in jail

  8. TO D: How sad. . . in your disgust at this murder, you have just added to the general horror with your comments.

  9. mayor of silver lake blvd.

    This is very good news – if they have the right guy. Otherwise it is bad news if it becomes the reason not to continue investigating for other possible suspects.

    Its still early in the reporting. They will need more evidence than we have been told about to make a case against this guy for the killing of David Loma.

    I see two problems already.

    First, this report states the victim signaled for the suspect to drive past his car.
    Except the crime report of the incident stated that the victim had driven up behind the suspects car at a stop sign. When the suspect vehicle did not proceed , the victim drove past the suspect.

    Second, these homies that like to cruise around with a loaded piece at hand usually are not very knowledgeable in proper use and etiquette of their weapon. I can picture this suspect pulling his car alongside the victims STOPPED car and shooting while both cars are not moving.

    I find it hard to picture Beltran pulling one accurate shot while both vehicles were moving as the incident report describes. More likely this guy’s shot would have gone through the roof of his car and the gun kicked back into his face if he pulled it while driving.

    Concerned residents and police officers should not rest unless the D.A. has sufficient and well-founded evidence. The suspect Beltran will probably be locked up for a while on a concealed weapon and/or other charges.

    It would be a shame to lose a year and then be told he may not be the killer of David Vasquez. A shame not only for the friends and family who lost David Vasquez to a murderer, but a shame if the real killer remains free and is able to strike again.

    The explanation for the circumstances of the shooting carry a high degree of improbability. Thats before we even consider the fact that another man was shot to death in almost the exact spot in October 2009.

  10. Sorry, fleaman, but there are plenty of places in the world where such random acts of violence are rare and where people go about their daily lives without the underlying tension that we Angelenos take for granted. The Middle East has its share of violence, as does West Africa, but I have traveled extensively around both regions and felt much more relaxed than I do around my hometown of Los Angeles. I didn’t realize how tense and on-guard this city had made me until I traveled to other parts of the world. Most criminals in other places are motivated by economics, not by some hyper-allegiance to a “neighborhood.” I am very glad that the police caught this man, if he turns out to be the perpetrator. Sounds like his passenger is talking, so I’m guessing they have the right guy.

  11. Silver Lake resident

    What a good for nothing thug. Who was he trying to impress being alone late at night? 18 years old and already a murderer. I feel bad for his mother — but I am so, so, so thankful this guy was caught. I often use this route as a shortcut and I had been avoiding it in the weeks since the shooting.

    The victim seemed like a good, decent guy who didn’t deserve to be shot down by some underachieving moron with an agenda to “act tough” to those who drive around his precious Toyota!

  12. Fast track the death penalty!

  13. “…Look at the world, look at history, look at today. I see no evidence that human nature has changed…”. No, human nature may not change, but I know this:

    Humans with the nature you indicate have been here since the pobladores trekked in. Sure, we were the murder capitol of the nation back in the N Alley day. But LA was a far, far safer city when I grew up.

    A slide into drivebys, tags everywhere and pops in the night in what used to be extremely middle-class nighborhoods, read all the nighborhoods that read this blog, from Eagle Rock to Rampart to Pico-Union to Normandie District and K-Town, began in what I recall was the early 80s. Downhill fast from there.

    We played at MacArthur Park as kids. Safely, unescorted, unwatched. It was clean, it had boating and fishing, guys really played checkers by the trees as in Jimmy Webb’s song and if there was trouble cops came down hard on miscreants. It became totally dangerous during the crack epidemic in the 80s. It became a cesspool.

    Sure, human nature has the measure of violence in it but I have to believe our betters angels conquer it on a daily basis. Unless you’re an idiot. The city apparently now has more than its share of idiots.

    Shooting a fellow human being on a mistake or on the flash of a real gang sign should not be explained away as ‘part of what we are as humans.’ No, it’s plain stupid and it stinks. There is a criminal element in this city that will shoot you and go to MacDonald’s w/o a care. I knew tough cases in junior high and high school, guys who went to prison, were in gangs, were from the projects but nothing like what we hear and read about today. Random, idiotic homicides.

    Traffic’s worse than ever — rush hour used to be an hour, hello, that’s how it got the name — and we learn to live with it. But I have to believe that for most of us the violence and anonymous killing is beyond basic humanity.

    Guys like this — and their families who have devolved to the point of allowing their children to act out as if this were Abilene in the Wild West — now fill the nice nighborhoods I biked around as a boy.

    Hate to tell old friends who have moved from L.A. what their old familiar streets and homes have become. On Council, Hoover, Coronado, Union, Vendome. Virgil District once clean and tidy with yards trimmed and beautiful, now cars on lawns, cheap pressed furniture on the curb, abandoned sofas. Several homeless camp on Virgil between Cha Cha Cha and Smogcutter bar. Wasn’t like that before. The alleys where we played, feces and condoms on ground. Sick.

    L.A. was a beautiful, attractive, clean city once upon a time. Safe for kids to trick-or-treat anywhere, to go on long bike rides, peeps took care of their yards, kept up their houses. Knew what their kids were doing, knew who they friends were.

    Extremely rare to hear of a shooting. Kid pal of mine at Commonwealth Elementary was in the news around 1964. He disappeared from school one day. I saw him in the paper: his dad, a cabbie, got shot in the head one night and was killed. Robbery, assailant never caught. That was freaky and unheard of.

    It seemed to change within a decade. By the end of the 80s it seemed as if every neighborhood in L.A. was experiencing shootings. The other day, two pals gunned down in Whittier, what? Safe and staid Whittier? Random homicides all over our city, Times crime blog lists ones you’ll never hear of. Too many, too anonymous. Standing outside of your home is a clear and present danger to your well being. Or stay inside and take a bullet through a wall, as in Angeleno Hts., rest in peace kid. Kids, plural.

    L.A. of today is not normal. No amount of explaining how ‘ human nature is what it is’ makes that work for me, sorry.

  14. Just hand him the death sentence and be done with it.

  15. Idiocy and stupidity aren’t part of human nature?

    Sorry, unless you have the secrets to changing the genes responsible (and controlling the learnt behavior also), or reprogramming the Matrix, I don’t how you can fix human nature. You can try to control it, you can try to nurture it and you can try to isolate it (jail), but you won’t be able to eliminate it.

    That being said, lets look at this in context; we live in a city if MILLIONS of people of which the MASS majority live moral law abiding lives. It is RARE that such a monstrosity of an even as this shooting occurs relative to the percent of the population. But you will Always have instances of humans hurting other humans, luckily these instances are extremely low to anyone of us under normal circumstances. Those risks are of course raised if you happen to be involved in crime, etc.

    My point is that unfortunately this instance, although relatively rare, will still happen and will always happen, unless you can find a way to change human nature.

    As for this bloke example of human nature: He had a gun under his seat when pulled over and the girl riding with him on said night has be identified and is cooperating with the detectives. No mention if ballistics have been performed yet, but even if he for some reason isn’t the ‘shooter’, driving around with a gun under your seat is an indication of ‘up to no good’, period. Plus, the reports of the girl ‘cooperating’ is a huge indication that he’s the ‘one’. Finally, the car that was identified in the shooting is the same car (apparently) he was driving. Sure there is always the chance it’s the wrong guy, but there has to be a point when all the evidence adds up to prove there is probable cause to charge him with murder and it seems this case has achieved that point.

  16. mayor of silver lake blvd.

    Maybe some of the “random, idiotic homicides” that you mention are related to the impact of crack on the development of the fetal brain?

    As for the homeless encampment on Virgil which you mention – maybe one contributing factor is not overall social decay.

    Some of the existing social decay is currently under a geographic relocation process.

    Multimillion dollar investments by big-time players have been placed on the rejuvenation of Downtown L.A. as yuppie destination to live and play.
    As a result, DTLA has been cleaned-up and the work has not yet finished.

    In order to reduce the gritty character factor to a target .5%, they didn’t just wave a magic wand and the dregs vanished into thin air.

    No, they waved the magic black wood baton and swept the grime off the streets of DTLA. A bell curve or Boolean logarithm can predict exactly where they have resettled themselves.

    You have memories of the beautiful attractive Los Angeles of your youth. It may have been pleasant 30 – 45 years ago, but just try to imagine what sweet little hood the Chumash called home.

  17. Well, I guess Los Angeles wasn’t that safe for the Chumash – or they’d still be here today.

  18. BAD PARENTING!!!!!!!!

  19. The death penalty was made for common trash which live among us like Mr. Beltran.

  20. The problem is guns! Too many guns on the street.

  21. Not too long ago on this blog site, someone commented something to the effect that ,
    “Silver Lake has a Trader Joe’s because there’s no gang violence” . I beg to differ.

    Glad the man was caught and sincere condolences go to the family of the person who was killed.

  22. First off, every body already condemning the suspect are way out of line. Wait for more facts to come out before you make a judgement.

    And secondly, anybody asking for the death penalty in this, or any case, is not any better than whoever committed this murder. Get off your fucking high horses you hypocrites.

  23. Nothing hypocritical about it, El Dandy. Commit a murder, get the death penalty. We don’t need people like that on earth. It disgusts me when I read about a murderer who gets out of prison after fifteen or twenty (or fewer) years. Either imprison them for life or give them the death penalty — and decriminalize possession and use of all drugs so that our prisons aren’t stuffed with nonviolent substance abusers.

  24. I don’t know, the dude kinda looks guilty.

  25. This discussion has really gone off topic.

  26. Of course its hypocritical! You get upset for someone committing murder so you think the solution is murder!? Thats not justice, thats revenge.

  27. Who the hell is raising these feral animals in my neighborborhood?

    A young kid was killed over nothing but testosterone.


    Rest in peace.

  28. @ Fleaman
    Sorry that you have such a pessimistic view of human nature. It all has to do with the values you are raised with and the cultural environment it provides. We were taught that people didn’t fight – that’s why humans were given the mental capacity to settle their differences. My brothers were not even allowed to have toy guns. The Dutch area I grew up in had no gangs, no shootings, also of course, no tagging, no litter, no ugliness. It’s all about respect for yourself and others. It’s a shame that not all cultures have it.

  29. @Carol,


    Not all humans are ‘given’ the same mental capacities.

    I don’t have a’ pessimistic view of human nature’, I said that you can never eliminate the bad side of human nature, unless you can change human nature for everyone 100% of the time, all of the time.

    I also said that “It is RARE that such a monstrosity of an event as this shooting occurs relative to the percent of the population.” How is that ‘pessimistic’??

    BTW, while the Netherlands are certainly a fine safe (relatively) country to live in, like all countries, towns, cities, neighborhoods, tribes, there’s crime, sometimes often/more, sometimes less, but it DOES happen. Why? Well, I think I’ve already posted why IMO.

  30. Also wanted to add that not all humans are given the same calm easy going personality/demeanor as the Dalai Lama.

  31. Let me just start with “Thank god they snatched him off the streets , and i hope he gets what he deserves”. Second his picture makes me wanna punch my computer monitor so bad… and third who cares if he aint the right person , the guy is a active gang-member , he deserves no freedom what so ever. Yea i said it , and what !!!?? If cops caught someone else this piece of trash would of shot or murdered someone else. NEXT THING ON THE TO DO LIST . Start locking up all the taggers in the SilverLake area . starting with all the guys from FSK …. Why ? Because these guys walk around with guns , and shoot others , not to mention they mark up the walls in the city. —“Time for the community to come together , and kick these no good people out our nice neighborhood”

  32. Hey El Dandy, easy to be moderate from the comfort of your computer chair isn’t it? Not to wish you ill, but wait till some lowlife gangbanger attacks you or a loved one and see if you are still moderate, or whether you too are a “hypocrite”.

  33. @ Fleaman
    I’ve been around mentally low functioning people. I’ve worked with them and have them as neighbors. They CAN be taught right from wrong. By the way, I wasn’t referring to the Netherlands. I grew up in the U.S.A.. It’s still all about the values one is raised with.

  34. Look folks here is the fact gang members like prison they love it! free food cell phones face book ect, your a fool if you think you can abolish the death penalty and these chumps will just leave you alone the death penalty needs to be fast tracked and streamlined so as to deal with these violent crims !

  35. Blooming in Echo Park

    I think it’s a sad comment that some are making, giving people like Beltran a pass. Human Nature? Who’s trying to change human nature? We should all just be trying to hold those who have a lack of good human nature, responsible. Did carrying a loaded weapon under his front seat, not predetermine that he would at some point, use it? Of course it did. He had it, he used it and a hard working person died because of it. I carry hand sanitizer under my front seat and I’m now afraid to scratch my nose at a stop sign, in fear that someone will mistake it for a gang sign. Is this how the hard working people in Los Angeles are supposed to live – In fear? I’d rather gang members live in fear of the repercussions that they will have to face if they shoot blindly into someone’s car. But they don’t. They don’t care because the punishment is to go to a jail where you and I pay all their bills for as long as they’re in there. Then they eventually get out and go back to the same angry acts that they barely got in trouble for the first time. And I’m still paying, only this time I’m paying with my family’s safety and freedom because now, they’re back in my neighborhood trying to figure out how to commit the same crimes, only not get caught.
    It’s a horrible cycle that won’t end until the neighborhood and the city collectively stop giving murders, thieves, gang members, pedophiles, rapists and former convicted felons, second and third chances. Juan David Vasquez Loma does not get a second chance for being productive and responsible, why should Beltran get one for being destructive and threatening? Seems to me, we are reinforcing the behavior of the wrong group of people. I fully support the death penalty for these “prepared with intent” murders. My family requests that the neighborhoods of Silverlake and Echo Park commit to ZERO TOLERANCE ON GANG VIOLENCE.


  37. Blooming and axaxax say it all.

  38. It’s a fantasy, but my wish is for every one here so ragingly bloodthirsty for justice and closure who’s predetermined the suspect’s guilt based on a mugshot, an arrest and statements from the police just take a breath and a step back and try to realize how frightening and demoralizing you sound. Your outrage over Juan David Vasquez Loma’s murder is understandable, but don’t let it override decency.

    For those who will bury this comment with variations on the STFU theme: Giovanni Ramirez.

    If Beltran is guilty let him either admit it or be accorded his rights to a fair trial and found so. I am not making excuses for nor giving a pass to Beltran. Based on what’s been shown it’s easy to conclude he’s a bad man and want him destroyed. Too easy. Do the harder thing and let the process prove he’s the culprit.

  39. While the process works on proving his guilt, I will rant. If it’s too indecent for you, don’t read it, Will Campbell. No one’s forcing you to.

  40. JN, I appreciate you at least acknowledging the process and thanks for the suggestion to ignore yours and others’ similar rants, but I’ll read every word. While it’s a dispiriting reminder of how conveniently people can dispose of common sense, it’s ultimately an empowering one in that the process manages to prevail and succeed in spite of those legions who would seemingly jump at the chance to reverse its foundation and heartily accept a person as being guilty until proven innocent.

  41. I’m with “Blooming in Echo Park”. I’m so sick of all the senseless gang-related violence, tagging/property crimes, etc. I also, however, agree with the others that say that we can not presume Beltran’s guilt at this juncture.

    Whether or not he is guilty of this particular crime is yet to be determined and he certainly deserves due process. However I gotta say that I am glad that in the interim there is one less known gang member driving around with a gun under his seat in the neighborhood. Remember he was actually caught doing that already.

  42. There was an urban legend (or maybe a true story) going around in the late 80s about a deaf person using sign language, and getting murdered by gang members who thought he was throwing up gang signs.

    This reminds me of that.

  43. @JN Do you know me? Probably not, so don’t worry about what I have been through or what going’s to happen to me or my loved ones. And to you as well, you must be real tough sitting behind your computer angry at the senseless violence committed by gang members and other idiots. So how about instead of sitting here acting ignorant, why don’t you go out into your community volunteer at after school programs, create positivity in your community or create some kind of positive outlet for at risk youth so that they have somehting better to do then join a fucking gang! And if you’re too busy to do that, reach into your pockets and donate a dollar or however much you can to programs like that already in place. If you’ve done all that, good for you you’re out their doing what you can to prevent senseless violence. But if you haven’t, go fuck yourself.

    That goes to everyone else in here complaining about all these gangsters in your neighborhood. Do something constructive with your beefs instead of just crying on this board or to the cops or to your local council member. Get out there and get your hands dirty and help out your community in a positive non violent way. Set an example, don’t just be a loud mouth.

  44. luiza Mavropoulos

    to EL DANDY: I agree 100 percent with you esp. ur last paragraph. I know I’ve done my part. It’s not easy either, I’ve had guns pulled out at me, my vehicle messed with an all because I was on the “wrong: side of Echo Park, I’m sorry but I don’t see no sides, just a great divide. Someday, Someday all will be, well, different. The kids growing up in the 80’s who haven’t moved out are making a difference as I write. Ck out the blog you know you grew up in Echo Park if……….on FB.

  45. El Dandy, I’ve taught in inner-city schools (both elementary and secondary) for 13 years – and I’ve pushed my students academically and worked hard with them — but even if I hadn’t, I’d have a right to voice my opinion here without being told to “f*** * (my)self.” Would you like everyone to post their resumes here before they express their opinions?

    I think that after-school programs and jobs can save a certain percentage of kids from joining gangs, but no matter how many such programs exist, as long as gang members are feared and respected (and attract women), and as long as gangster rap and other media glamorize thugs, those images will influence many young men a lot more than any after-school program or apprenticeship. Our country as a whole needs to reject glamorization of thugs in rap music and in pop culture. Why isn’t anyone boycotting gangster rap artists? Why are those little “Homies” plastic figures still being sold in vending machines at laundromats around town? Obviously I don’t have the answers, but I don’t think jobs and community programs will make a huge dent in the problem.

  46. Jobs an community programs won’t make a huge dent? Half the reason people join gangs is because they see no realistic future for themselves where they will make a living and be able to live comfortably. More jobs would equal more opportunities, more opportunities would equal less need to break the law, or belief that breaking that law, to make some income. Mentoring programs, art programs, sports and recreation programs, tutoring programs, education programs, community organizing etc will make a huge difference. Sure, there’s always going to be a dumbasses out there who are going to be greedy and selfish. But true grassroots and community organizing, with time, can prevent these types of people from establishing the positions of power and influence you describe. This may not be the only way, but vengeance isn’t the solution. This method hasn’t been attempted whole heartedly, every year less and less money is invested in our youth.

    And James, you can still go fuck yourself. Anybody who wants death can go fuck themselves; cholo, cop, politician, judge, civilian. Fuck you.

  47. About the deaf person getting
    Killed for using sign language and gangsters killed him thinking it was Gang signs is a true story.

    @will campbell- on giovanni ramirez chief beck jumped the gun on that one, running to the media right away. Now he’s is very careful and what he says. Like you said, let the d.a get the case, and let them go thru the court system. I believe the charges were filed already, unlike Ramirez.

  48. What’s going on the NE LA? Gang related shootings in Silverlake and EP, brutal beating at Dodger Stadium and folks are trying to sell houses for ridiculous prices at well known gang sites. $499000 for a house near the top of Drew st.? The gang problem is a multi generational cancer. We need better leadership from a real mayor and hard core policing. After school programs are nice, but many times I think they just make people feel better about a problem that is not going away.

  49. If we’re talking about possible solutions, how about starting by reining in the screams for revenge? The tone of some of the debate on this page is chilling. Reacting with blind rage to something you can’t see clearly is a recipe for tragedy, whether it’s a teenager shooting a stranger in an act of road rage or an angry mob calling for the death penalty for someone who’s only a suspect at this point.

    While it may feel good to call someone “trash,” the truth is that we’re all capable of committing atrocities, we all have good and evil in us. Most of us have an ability to control our worst impulses; this boy—if he is guilty—did not. He deserves a fair trial, and if he’s convicted he should get a just sentence.

    Obviously there are all kinds of forces that contribute to creating poverty and gangs, and there’s no easy solution, but we each have an opportunity to do our best to take responsibility for our own words and actions, and to have respect and compassion and hopefully some degree of understanding for others.

  50. Well said Charles!

  51. This investigation done by Northeast detectives has been a facade from Day one.
    A joke. A travesty. A disgrace and an affront to those who value proffessional investigative practice.

    Juan David Vasquez Loma deserved better than this. But he never had a chance. These detectives arrived on the scene with a hidden agenda which precluded conducting a real investigation.

    Beltran may be an unsavory character. He may have been a perpetrator in the shooting of David Vasquez. But he either pleas or he walks. This case will not be tried before a jury. The case is disintegrating at this moment.

    How do I know? Read the article and interview with Detective Carillo in the December Los Feliz Ledger. Read between the lines.

    Detective Carillo is introducing us to the official excuses for the case to fall apart.
    Not the real reasons, mind you. Just the official hogwash.

  52. What’s truly sad is that I would guess that Captain Murphy is aware of these shenanigans.

    I don’t think he is pleased, but he goes along because he feels boxed in.

    There is a choice he can make. Stand up for principle and ethic. Make the call on this investigation – curveball, slider, sinker, junkball.

    Because its been all of those – Northeast detectives threw every pitch on this one. Every pitch except straight down the middle.

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