Street Preacher Dies 19 Months After Riot Beating
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A street evangelist died 19 months after he was beaten into a coma while trying to preach to looters during last year’s riots.
Wally Tope, 54, never regained consciousness after the April 30, 1992, attack in Hollywood. His death was the 55th fatality stemming from the riots.
After watching the city burn on the first day of the riots, friends said, Tope decided to try to do something about it. He went to a strip mall in a rough section of Hollywood and started preaching to people looting stores.
Fidel Ortiz, 22, and Leonard Sosa, 24, have pleaded innocent to attempted murder and aggravated mayhem in the attack. A trial has not yet been scheduled. They are being held on $750,000 bail each.
Prosecutors were waiting for a coroner’s report before deciding whether to file other charges, District Attorney Gil Garcetti’s office said in a statement.
Tope died Nov. 24 in a Pasadena convalescent hospital, the district attorney’s office announced Wednesday.
″I tell you something, if there’s a heaven, Wally will be there,″ his brother Dennis Tope said Wednesday. ″If he’s not, the rest of us don’t have a ghost of a chance.″
Ortiz told police Tope confronted him, telling him to repent or go to hell. The men scuffled. Sosa said he jumped in to help his friend, according to police reports.