Automatic gunfire outside a market in North Hollywood Monday morning that left a man injured was the result of Armenian gangs trying to extort money from a business owner who decided he wasn't going to take it anymore, police said.
Bystanders heard the gunfire after 8 a.m. in the parking lot of the Royal Fresh market, police said. Evidence markers could be seen in the parking lot where bullets landed after the owner was confronted by four alleged gang members, police said.
"It sounded like firecrackers," said Arthur Gonzales, a nearby business owner. "That’s why the gas station attendant and I were looking for someone shooting off firecrackers."
Los Angeles police Sgt. Frank Preciado said it was a dispute between the owner and an Armenian gang.
Preciado said the gang has been extorting the store owner for a while and has also tagged the outside of the market several times.
As employees were power washing the graffiti Monday morning, the gang members returned.
"They were demanding their money," Preciado said. "The owner showed up. He was armed and then a shooting transpired."
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Bullets flew across the parking lot on Sherman Way near Coldwater Canyon Avenue, striking several parked cars, the window of a neighboring business and the wall of a shop across the street.
"Luckily none of my employees were around it so we are very lucky," Gonzales said.
One of the gunmen was shot and is was taken into custody at a hospital. The three others got away. They got away in a light-colored Audi, possibly white.