Barbed wire at The Grove. Home invasions in Hollywood. Smash mobs at CVS. Are we just being paranoid, or is the city really falling apart?
ONa crisp Friday evening in early December, dozens of guests were milling about the backyard of a $5 million Spanish revival home perched high above the sloping chaparral of Temescal Canyon. It was a holiday event for a financial firm, but despite the flowing booze and endless traysof appetizers, a pall hung over the festivities. Throughout the fall and into the winter, a wave of inexplicable violence and mayhem seemed to have descended on the city, and it appeared to be getting worse. That very morning, news broke of yet another sensational crime: Jacqueline Avant, a beloved philanthropist, wife of music icon Clarence Avant, and mother-in-law to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos—one of the most powerful men in Hollywood—had been fatally shot in her Trousdale Estates Beverly Hills home, the latest in a series of random home invasions that had terrorized the Westside. Her alleged killer was arrested a few hours later after accidentally shooting himself during another home invasion in Hollywood. But his capture did little to soothe frayed nerves. As waiters bustled about, word of Avant’s slaying passed from one shocked guest to another. Many noted that the 81-year-old hadn’t been alone when she was murdered—a 24-hour private security guard had been on duty during her assault.
If it could happen to her, in Beverly Hills of all places, who could feel
Sadly, at this particular moment in L.A., the answer to that question is apparently nobody, not even guests at a party above Temescal Canyon in Pacific Palisades, one of the safest, wealthiest neighborhoods in the city. Because even as these partygoers mingled and gossiped in that backyard, sharing stories of the city’s spreading crime surge, two masked and hooded invaders had managed to slip past the caterers in the kitchen and into the house. The gunmen ambushed two women as they were retrieving their coats before leaving the fete, according to reports. Against the din of the party, they instructed the guests to stare at the ground as they relieved them of their belongings. It wasn’t a particularly lucrative haul: some jewelry, a wallet, iPhones, a smart watch, and a Lakers championship paperweight that one of the gunman had snagged from the house. But it was good enough. Security footage shows the two gunmen brazenly walking out the front door with their loot.