Man Killed in LA After Interrupting Catalytic Converter Theft

Early Saturday morning in downtown Los Angeles, a man was shot and killed by police after he tried to stop three individuals from removing a catalytic converter from a car.

Officer Jader Chaves, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department, stated that the man, who was unknown at the time the story first broke, encountered the suspects close to Pico Boulevard and Hope Street. According to Chaves, one of the three assailants shot him before getting away in a car.

The man was “General Hospital” actor Johnny Wactor.

On May 25, at around 3:25 a.m., after finishing his shift as a bartender at a neighborhood establishment in the 1200 block of Hope Street, Wactor was reportedly making his way back to his vehicle, according to eyewitness accounts. When he arrived at his car, he discovered three masked men using a floor jack to lift it off the ground and grab the catalytic converter.

Precious metals such as rhodium, palladium, and platinum are included in the catalytic converter, which is a mechanism used to reduce exhaust emissions and is usually located under the vehicle’s chassis. By selling them to scrapyards or auto parts suppliers, thieves may gain hundreds of dollars before melting them down and extracting the precious metals.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, thefts of catalytic converters surged in California, which some linked to heightened economic hardship. In response to these particular crimes, some states passed legislation making it harder for recyclers to purchase catalytic converters from anyone other than the rightful owner or a certified dealer and increasing fines for purchasers who do not provide certification that the converters are not stolen.

According to the police, the three individuals in question were all clad in black attire and were operating a dark-colored sedan. Their last known location was on Hope Street, heading north.

The 37-year-old Wactor was airlifted to the hospital but succumbed to his wounds.

Wactor has been seen in several shows, including “Westworld,” “The OA,” “NCIS,” “Station 19,” “Criminal Minds,” and “Hollywood Girl.”

A coworker and witness, Anita Joy, described Johnny Wactor’s courageous last minutes.

She said that they had cautiously approached the men, questioning what they were doing, at first thinking the car was being towed.

Shots fired, and Johnny staggered backward. Joy asked if he was alright.

“No, shot,” was his response.