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05
Jan 2012
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says this week's crime is no omen of trouble ahead

Sure, crime was down in 2011, yet again. But 2012 has really gotten off to a bad start.

In the span of one week, Los Angeles saw dozens of vehicles torched in a one-man arson spree; seven officer- or deputy-involved shootings; a freeway shutdown for the manhunt of a parolee who shot a parole agent; and at least eight killings.

Still, LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck thinks that one bad week doesn't represent an omen of the year ahead.

"We have bad weeks all the time," Beck said.

He said violence may have spiked because the department's attention was focused on catching the arson suspect that struck Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.

"We had to deploy a lot of officers in the field for the arson suspect, and eventually they gotta go home," Beck said. "They cannot work forever. And so we have lapses in deployment."

Among the rash of violent incidents in the past week:

-- Eight killings have been reported in the city since Jan. 1, most occurring in the South Los Angeles area, according to LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith.

-- The body of an unidentified woman was found in a homeless camp that was charred by a brushfireWednesday near the San Diego (405) Freeway in Mission Hills. The coroner's office on Thursday ruled her death a homicide.

-- At least four LAPD officer-involved shootings have been reported in the new year, including one in North Hollywood on Wednesday where cops shot a man suspected of assault with a deadly weapon, Smith said. The suspect remains in critical condition.

-- The Sheriff's Department has reported three deputy-involved shootings.

-- On Wednesday, a parolee with two strikes allegedly shot a state parole agent in Lake View Terrace, triggering a massive manhunt that shut down the Foothill (210) Freeway for at least four hours.

Those incidents occurred as the suspect in 52 arson fires during a four-night spree in Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley was waiting in court to be arraigned.

Harry Burkhart, 24, has been charged with 37 counts of arson in 12 fires between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2. Authorities expect to file more counts by Jan. 24.

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