Artyom Gasparyan, 32, who led Los Angeles, California, authorities on a 24-hour manhunt in January, pleaded not guilty to 26 felony charges this week. The massive search involved at least 100 law enforcement officials and caused widespread panic throughout the city. However, it ended when the defendant wrecked his car and was shot by police while fleeing on foot.
According to reports, Gasparyan’s crime spree began on a December morning when he pulled into a Burbank driveway with loud music blaring from his car. Bheri Wentz, who was outside to pick up his morning newspaper, told Artyom to turn the music down. During a heated verbal exchange, Gasparyan allegedly shot the 67-year-old man and his gardener, who witnessed the assault.
Gasparyan was tracked by police to a house in Long Beach. However, he reportedly escaped and shot another person near Van Nuys Boulevard and Plummer Street.
The victim, who was found face down next to his car, was later identified as 37-year-old Adan Corea-Santillana. Adan was rushed to Mission Hills hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival. Authorities said he was shot multiple times in what appeared to be a “road rage incident.”
The search for Artyom Gasparyan reached a climax when police spotted his vehicle at a car repair shop and initiated a high-speed chase when he exited the parking lot. In an attempt to escape capture, Gasparyan led authorities in the wrong direction on a busy highway. However, he eventually collided with two other oncoming vehicles.
Miraculously, he emerged from his wrecked vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. Authorities were specifically concerned as he was brandishing a handgun and was considered dangerous. Fortunately, he did not make it very far. Artyom Gasparyan was shot by police and taken into custody without further incident.
Although the incident unfolded in front of numerous motorists, a police spokesman said the officers were forced to open fire because the suspect approached them with a gun in his hand. “He’s a very dangerous individual. We had well over 100 detectives and several hundred line officers assigned specifically to capture him.”
Authorities said Artyom Gasparyan had an accomplice who was later identified as Richard Ramirez. Police also chased Ramirez, who barged into a Long Beach home and shot two men and stabbed their father in the face. He then turned the gun on himself and fired a bullet into his own head before he could be apprehended. Ramirez was pronounced dead at the scene.
As reported by Los Angeles Times, Gasparyan, who is a native of Armenia, is charged with 11 counts of attempted murder, seven counts of second-degree robbery, two counts of vehicle theft, two counts of reckless driving while fleeing from police, one count of hit and run resulting in injury, one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and one count of assault with a semiautomatic weapon.
In a separate complaint, which was brought forth in August 2015, Artyom Gasparyan was also charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
Gasparyan, who is being held without bail, missed numerous previous court dates because he was recuperating from injuries sustained during the manhunt and subsequent shooting by Los Angeles police authorities.
His public defender could not be reached for comment. However, his mother, Mariam Gasparyan, who spoke to reporters after his arrest, said her son was innocent and incapable of committing the crimes of which he is accused.
Artyom Gasparyan was connected to numerous crimes throughout Burbank, West Hollywood, Carson, and northeast Los Angeles. If convicted on all counts, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
[Photo by Los Angeles Police Department via AP Images]