Justin Bieber offered condolences today to the family of a paparazzo who was struck and killed while crossing a busy street in the Sepulveda Pass after photographing the singer's pulled-over Ferrari, but the pop sensation also called for tougher laws restricting celebrity photographers' actions.
"While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim," Bieber said. "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."
A photographer was fatally struck Tuesday night along Sepulveda
Boulevard at Getty Center Drive, police said. Multiple news outlets identified
the photographer as Chris Guerra, who was in his 20s.
A friend of Bieber's was driving the singer's car and was stopped for speeding at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday by a California Highway Patrol officer on the northbound San Diego (405) Freeway at Getty Center Drive, investigators said.
The driver of the white Ferrari exited the freeway and stopped at Sepulveda and Getty Center. Bieber was not in the car, CHP officer Mike Harris told City News Service. The celebrity website TMZ.com reported the driver of the car was rapper Lil Twist, who had been with Bieber Tuesday afternoon at a Beverly Hills hotel.
The photographer had parked his car across the street, crossed Sepulveda
Boulevard and took some pictures of the vehicle, police said.
"He was warned by the CHP to get out of there," Los Angeles police
Officer Emilson Saint Julien of the West Traffic Bureau said.
A female motorist on Sepulveda struck the photorgrapher as he was crossing the street back toward his vehicle, police said.
"He was crossing from the west side toward his vehicle on the east
side. The car was going south on Sepulveda toward him and he was thrown
north," Saint Julien said.
The woman made a U-turn and used her vehicle to prevent others from
hitting the photographer while she called 911, Saint Julien said. Paramedics
took him to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The female motorist was interviewed and sent home to care for her
children, although her car remained at the crash scene, according to Saint
Julien, who said the woman did not appear to be at fault because the
photographer was in the wrong place.
"He was a pedestrian on a roadway outside a crosswalk," Saint Julien
said. "Crossing Sepulveda is almost like crossing a freeway."
TMZ reported that Guerra, who was single and had no children, worked at
a Las Vegas casino for several years and moved to Los Angeles in March to
become a paparazzo, and he had been following Bieber exclusively in recent
A friend at scene, Thibault Mauvilain, told ABC7 that Guerra freelanced for several outlets and was "just a kid from New Mexico.''
"He loved the people he was following," Mauvilain told the station.
"It's too risky and the money's just not there anymore. And even though we try
to stay within limits of whatever is legal, this is a dangerous job."
In 2010, the state Legislature passed a law aimed at cracking down the
activities of aggressive paparazzi. A photographer named Paul Raef was the
first to be charged under the law earlier this summer when he allegedly chased
Bieber on the Hollywood (101) Freeway in the San Fernando Valley.
But in November, a Van Nuys Superior Court judge threw out those
charges, calling the law "problematic" and "overly inclusive."
Raef is still facing misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and failing
to obey the orders of a peace officer.