Los Angeles/ Crime & Emergencies
AI Assisted Icon
Published on February 29, 2024
East Hollywood's El Zarape Restaurant Hit by Suspected Gang-Linked Vandalism and Theft, Owner Faces Double TragedySource: gofundme

In the early hours of Monday morning, a local East Hollywood restaurant known for its family atmosphere and Mexican cuisine, El Zarape Melrose Restaurant, was devastated by an act of vandalism and theft. Police and the owner suspected that the motives behind this destruction could be linked to gang rivalry in the area.

The suspect, who was recorded on the restaurant's security cameras, embarked on a rampage, spraying graffiti across the establishment, and looting a computer and a safe that contained an estimated $20,000. The total damage inflicted on the family-owned business, including stolen property and defacement, is said to be around $80,000. "The officer said this was MS-13 territory, and [the] people who came in are their rivals," Alberto Mendez, the restaurant's proprietor, as reported by Fox LA.

El Zarape has been a staple in the neighborhood for seven years, and its owner, Mendez, is grappling with the sudden onslaught of misfortune. Not only has his business been shattered, but this upheaval comes amidst personal loss; his ex-wife and mother of his daughters recently passed away. A GoFundMe page has been set up to aid in the recovery and expenses resulting from this criminal act. Mendez told ABC7, "I feel bad for my employees because they have kids too."

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is currently investigating the incident, with burglary detectives conducting interviews and searching for additional video evidence. Captain Mike Rippe of the LAPD stated, "This investigation is in the preliminary stage and we are in the process of interviews and canvassing for video. I can confirm there was gang graffiti at the burglary location, but nothing that would denote any gang ‘rivalry,’" according to a Fox LA statement.