Chris Guerra: Justin Bieber Ferrari Tragedy On Sepulveda As Photographer Killed
A young photographer reportedly shooting Justin Bieber's Ferrari during a traffic stop was killed when he was struck by a car in the Sepulveda Pass. Bieber was not in the white Ferrari 458 Italia, according to reports.
Police told LA Weekly it happened on Sepulveda Boulevard near Getty Center Drive after the car was pulled off the freeway by the CHP for an unknown violation about 5:45 p.m. today.
The photographer ...
... died at or en route to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, LAPD Officer James Stoughton told us.
Reports indicate the shooter was told more than once by the CHP to move back as officers conducted the traffic stop off the freeway. He was killed crossing Sepulveda to get back to his vehicle, police told us.
We attempted to get in touch with the CHP but had no luck.
A witness who said he was a friend of the victim told reporters at the scene that the shooter was not a paparazzo, as has been reported, but rather was "just a kid."
In footage broadcast on KCAL9 the friend said the photographer was "a young kid from New Mexico ... He was not a paparazzo."
Sepulveda Boulevard was shut down tonight as police and the CHP investigated.
[Added at 11:13 p.m.]: Fox 11 News said tonight that the victim was in his 20s.
[Updated at 11:44 a.m. Wednesday]: TMZ ID'd the photographer as Chris Guerra. While his friend said he was not a paparazzo, the site indicated he was shadowing the pop star as part of a project.
TMZ said the photog believed Bieber had been smoking pot yesterday. But it was rapper Lil Twist who was behind the wheel when pulled over yesterday, according to the site.
The woman who had hit the photog not only stopped but tried to block traffic so he would not be hit again, according to City News Service.
Bieber issued this statement:
While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim. Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent bystanders and the photographers themselves.
[Update at 3:13 p.m. Wednesday]: The LAPD issued a statement this afternoon shedding some light on the tragedy.
The victim was identified by cops as a 29-year-old, though they continue to withhold his name until family members can be notified.
Police say the photographer was struck by a southbound, 2007 Toyota Highlander on Sepulveda south of the Getty Center Drive exit off the 405. They said the victim was crossing "eastbound" on Sepulveda when he was hit.
According to the statement:
The pedestrian was a photographer and was photographing a traffic stop on the adjacent 405 freeway just prior to crossing the roadway.
The driver of the Highlander was described as a 69-year-old woman who "did not show any signs of drug or alcohol impairment while at the scene," according to the LAPD.
Police said the victim was pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:20 p.m.