LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A motorist allegedly responsible for fatally injuring a 24-year-old woman at a South Los Angeles street takeover on Christmas Day has been charged with murder and hit-and-run driving resulting in death, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Dante Terrel Chapple-Young -- who was arrested last Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico -- has waived extradition, but no court date has been set, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
The charges against the 27-year-old Orange County man include an allegation that he used a deadly and dangerous weapon -- his vehicle.
Chapple-Young is believed to have been the driver of the car that struck Elyzza Guajaca, a nursing student, around 9 p.m. Dec. 25 at the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Florence Avenue, according to Detective Ryan Moreno of the Los Angeles Police Department's South Traffic Division.
Police said Guajaca was standing with a group of people on the northeast corner of the intersection when she was struck by a black Chevrolet Camaro that was doing "doughnuts" during the street takeover.
She died at a hospital. The driver of the Camaro abandoned the vehicle and ran away, police said.
Two other motorists involved in the takeover event were still being sought, Moreno said, and he urged them to surrender.
"Ms. Guajaca was working toward a career dedicated to bringing comfort and care to people in our community," District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday in a statement announcing the charges against Chapple-Young. "Her life ended because of a street takeover that benefited no one and only brought heartache. We join Ms. Guajaca's family and friends in mourning her death."
Police later released cell phone and surveillance images showing possible additional victims, and touted a $50,000 reward for information leading to the driver, while also asking anyone else who may have been injured to come forward.
Detectives identified at least six or seven additional victims who appeared to have been injured by the vehicle, thanks to videos from the scene. Some of them appeared to have been critically injured, authorities said.
A multi-agency task force of personnel from the LAPD, the FBI, and the Anaheim, Long Beach and Albuquerque police departments was involved in the investigation, Moreno said.
Moreno told reporters in December that the department was doing what it can to crack down on street takeovers, and would like to see people face harsher penalties.
"I know one thing we're trying to do is trying to mirror some other cities where they take cars and they crush the cars, the cars are gone," Moreno said. "Right now our thing is we do the 30-day thing, take them for 30 days. And it is affecting it somewhat, but there's a lot, a lot going on, it's a lot. You guys see it's pretty widespread, a lot of people involved. On this night, there was probably I would say close to 200 folks, if not more, in the intersection."
Guajaca's brother Louie said her sister was a loving aunt to his beautiful girls.
"She was a beautiful sister who loved big," he said. "She was a daughter who always wanted to be with (family) around and have family time. She was the rock to our family. She was just a good, goofy, funny, outgoing person. She loved all her close friends and family."
Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson said he witnessed part of the deadly street takeover and called on Mayor Karen Bass and the City Council to declare a state of emergency on such takeovers, similar to the declaration recently issued by the mayor on homelessness.
"Street takeovers present -- as witnessed by the death at Florence and Crenshaw and numerous injuries to life and damage to property at other takeover sites in the city -- a grave problem for city officials," Hutchinson said in a statement.
"It has sparked community outrage and demand for stepped up action. A state of emergency will further empower law enforcement and citizens to concentrate time, energy and resources on this deadly problem."
Anyone with any information on the crash was urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477. Tipsters may also visit www.lapdonline.org and click on "Anonymous Web Tips" under the "Get Involved-Crime Stoppers" menu to submit an online tip.
Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.