LA: Police, family baffled by shooting

Los Angeles Daily News
March 9 2004

Police, family baffled by shooting
No motive apparent in fatal freeway gun-down of driver

By Naush Boghossian and Phillip W. Browne
Staff Writer

NORTH HOLLYWOOD – The son of Armenian immigrants, Garen Ketikyan had
a strong work ethic, holding down a full-time job at a supermarket
while studying business at Valley College.

But the 20-year-old’s dreams were cut short early Tuesday when he was
fatally shot by gunmen in a white Ford Mustang as he and a friend
drove on the Hollywood (170) Freeway.

“He wanted to be successful. … He was like a best friend to me,”
said the victim’s older brother, Harut Ketikyan, 24, a Los Angeles
County probation officer.

“Mom and Dad would always tell us, ‘The reason we brought you to this
country is there is more opportunity here.’ To get life cut short
like that is sad.”

Ketikyan was killed just after midnight as he drove his 1998 Mercury
Marquis north on the freeway near Sherman Way. His passenger, whose
name was not released for his safety, was uninjured.

Detectives initially believed the case might be connected to
narcotics, gangs or other criminal activity, but those leads proved
false, and the motive remains a mystery.

“All indications are that they are good, hard-working kids. And they
were just out having some fun and visiting friends,” said LAPD
Detective Mike Coffey.

He said Ketikyan and his passenger were stopped at a traffic signal
at Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Victory Boulevard about 11:45 p.m.
Monday, and beeped their horn at two motorcyclists who didn’t move
when the light turned green.

“The men got off the bikes, removed their helmets and began walking
toward the Mercury in a threatening manner,” Coffey said. “Somehow
the confrontation ended without incident and everyone drove away.”

About 15 minutes later, Ketikyan was on the freeway when a white
Mustang, with chrome wheels and a new-car registration pulled
alongside and someone inside fired 10 to 15 rounds, Coffey said.
Ketikyan was struck in the head and died at the scene.

The passenger later told detectives he believed the men in the
Mustang were the motorcyclists who had accosted them earlier.

“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.

Ketikyan moved with his family from Armenia in 1991. He worked at
Jon’s Market in West Hollywood while studying business at Valley

“I just never thought something like that could happen to our family,
until one day it does,” Harut Ketikyan said.

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 nonbusiness, contact the 24-hour toll-free number at the
Detective Information Desk, at (877) LAWFULL, (877) 529-3855.