Hollywood man killed in mysterious freeway shooting

Long Beach Press-Telegram, CA
March 10 2004

Hollywood man killed in mysterious freeway shooting

By Phillip W. Browne
Staff Writer

NORTH HOLLYWOOD – Detectives this morning were trying to unravel the
mystery behind an early morning shooting along the Hollywood (170)
Freeway that claimed the life of a Hollywood grocery clerk.

Garen Ketikyan, 20, was gunned down by someone inside a white Ford
Mustang just after midnight as he drove north on the freeway near
Sherman Way. His passenger, whose name was not released for his
safety, was uninjured.

The assailants are believed to be the same men who, just minutes
earlier, were riding motorcycles and got into a confrontation with
the victims, police said. Detectives also originally believed the
case might be connected to narcotics, gangs or other criminal
activity. But that also proved false, and the motive remains a
mystery.

“We ran a check on Garen and the passenger, and neither have a
criminal record,” said Detective Mike Coffey, with the LAPD’s North
Hollywood Division. “All indications are that they are good, hard
working kids. And they were just out having some fun and visiting
friends.”

The drama began about 11:45 p.m. Monday when Ketikyan, a student at
Valley College, and his passenger were stopped at the intersection of
Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Victory Boulevard “cruising and looking
for girls to talk to,” Coffey said. They were inside a 1998 Mercury
Marquis.

At the traffic signal, there were two men on motorcycles and a woman
driving a Lexus who were stopped in front of them. When the light
turned green, the Lexus drove away but the men on motorcycles did not
move.

“The victim began honking his horn, and the men got off the bikes,
removed their helmets and began walking toward the Mercury in a
threatening manner,” Coffey said, adding that the victims noticed the
men were Armenian. “No words were exchanged but the incident scared
them. Somehow the confrontation ended without incident and everyone
drove away.”

About 15 minutes later Ketikyan was driving north on the Hollywood
Freeway when a white Mustang, with chrome wheels and paper plates,
pulled alongside them and someone inside fired between 10 and 15
rounds, striking Ketikyan in the head, Coffey said.

A North Hollywood patrol officer on Sherman Way heard she shots, and
saw Ketikyan’s car come to a stop on the overpass. The passenger
jumped out and began screaming for help as the officer raced up the
onramp to investigate, Coffey said.

Ketikyan was pronounced dead at the scene.

The uninjured passenger told detectives he believed the men in the
Mustang were the same people on the motorcycles.

“It seemed kind of far-fetched to us that the assailants could switch
vehicles and find the victims that quickly, but it’s not impossible,”
Coffey said. “We’re following all the leads we can.”

The northbound 170 Freeway was closed between Burbank Boulevard and
Sherman Way until about 4:40 a.m. while police investigated the
shooting, said California Highway Patrol Officer Francisco
Villalobos.

Detectives did not have a good description of the suspects, except to
say they are Armenian. They also want to question the woman who was
driving the Lexus.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Coffey at the
LAPD’s North Hollywood station, (818) 623-4075. On weekends and
during off-hours, contact the 24-hour toll free number at the
Detective Information Desk, at (877) LAWFULL, (877) 529-3855.

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