Armed man arrested in LA where Joe Biden was due to speak

Vice-President Joe Biden was scheduled to speak at the venue a few hours later.
Vice-President Joe Biden was scheduled to speak at the venue a few hours later.AFP

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - A man with a loaded handgun was arrested in Los Angeles on Wednesday as he tried to drive through a security checkpoint outside a business where US Vice-President Joe Biden was due to speak a few hours later, police said.

Mr Biden was not at the venue when the man was taken into custody at about 9.15am in the city’s North Hollywood area, just west of the Bob Hope Airport in neighbouring Burbank, according to Los Angeles police sergeant Kyle Kirkman.

The man was driving a car into a secured area at the site when he was stopped at a checkpoint, and a loaded handgun was discovered in his vehicle, Mr Kirkman said.

Law enforcement officers confronting the man were alerted to the possibility of a gun when he “advised them that he had a loaded weapon in the vehicle”, a Secret Service spokeswan in Washington, Ms Nicole Mainor, told Reuters. She declined to give further details of the incident.

Secret Service agents and Los Angeles Police Department officers interviewed the man, who was identified as 62-year-old Larry Ira Estrin, a resident of Los Angeles, and he was placed under arrest for possession of a loaded weapon, police said.

He was jailed in lieu of US$35,000 (S$47,000) bond.

Police offered no possible explanation or motive for the man’s actions, and it was not immediately clear whether he was suspected of harbouring ill intentions towards the Vice-President.

“It may have been just a big mistake on his part,” Mr Kirkman said, adding the man was not a law enforcement officer.

An LAPD spokesman, Officer Liliana Preciado, confirmed earlier that the arrest was “related to” a planned appearance by Mr Biden in the city.

He was scheduled to appear at Bobrick Washroom Equipment with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other local officials for a 1pm political event about raising the minimum wage.

The event went ahead as planned, though Biden arrived later than scheduled, officials said.

The Vice-President’s office said Mr Biden had spent the night in Los Angeles but was not anywhere near the location of the event when the arrest took place.