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A parole agent reportedly tipped off police after noticing a man had gotten a fresh tattoo, possibly to cover up another tattoo linked to one of the suspects.
A distinctive tattoo can be a key clue in any case, and it appears that may be the case with the Bryan Stow beating investigation.
Police caught a break when a patrol agent reportedly noticed a fresh neck tattoo on a man he was supervising. Investigators believe the man may have been trying to cover up another tattoo, reported by witnesses, which might have linked him to the crime.
The suspect in question, Giovanni Ramirez, a suspected gang member, was arrested Sunday morning at his apartment in the east Hollywood area. He was wanted for the beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium opening night, March 31.
At least two other suspects are still being sought.
NBC4 LA spoke to a gang intervention specialist about gang life and the role of tattoos.
“A guy who has a tattoo on his neck will identify him with the community. An individual who approaches him knows exactly who he is, but he doesn’t know who the other guys is,” said Skip Townsend, who has counseled dozens of Los Angeles gang members over the years.
Earlier this year, police arrested a gang member in a murder investigation -- the suspect had the crime scene tattooed on his chest.
“It kind of makes him a walking billboard,” said Townsend.
Townsend is a former gang member. Tattooed on his arms are the names of friends he lost in gang wars of the early 1990s. Now he tells gang members if they want to live longer, they should get rid of certain tattoos.
“If it’s something disrespectful on their neck or something that can identify them and get them in conflict, we want to remove that immediately,” said Townsend.
Meanwhile, police will try to determine if Ramirez tried to cover up his tattoos for a different reason.
Bryan Stow remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital. He was transferred from a hospital in Los Angeles on May 16.