Teen Charged With Murder in Deadly Crash, Another Arrested

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Authorities arrested two teenagers suspected of street racing and allegedly causing the Aug. 3 crash that killed three people, the Burbank Police Department said Thursday. The county District Attorney’s office has charged one of them, a 19-year-old, with three counts of murder and one count of reckless driving.

Burbank police arrested a 19-year-old Burbank resident this week after he was charged with three counts of murder for allegedly driving a vehicle the department said caused a crash that killed three people.

The teenager, whom the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office also charged with one count of reckless driving, is being held in lieu of $6 million bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, the Burbank Police Department announced on Thursday. Police said he drove the Kia investigators claim was racing on Glenoaks Boulevard with a Mercedes-Benz on Aug. 3 when the two vehicles struck an uninvolved car, killing three of its occupants and critically injuring a fourth.

The BPD said authorities took the 17-year-old driver of the Mercedes-Benz into custody on Thursday. That driver, who was not identified because he is a minor, was detained at a juvenile detention facility on suspicion of the same charges; the L.A. County D.A.’s office was still reviewing the case as of Thursday, and it was not immediately clear when a decision would be announced.

Burbank police identified the 19-year-old as Hamlet Arseni Aghajanyan. A graduation program posted online shows that he graduated from Burbank High School in 2020.

In a news release, the BPD called the fatal crash “tragic and avoidable.”

“The Burbank Police Department reminds all community members that such reckless acts will not be tolerated. The Burbank Police Department will continue to aggressively enforce traffic laws, including reckless driving, racing and unsafe speed,” the release read. “The department will also continue to conduct and participate in educational campaigns to deter such reckless driving behaviors.”

Pressure has been mounting on the BPD and the Burbank City Council to address what many residents have called longstanding issues with speeding, particularly on Glenoaks Boulevard. A recent demonstration in front of City Hall called on the county D.A.’s office to charge the then-unidentified drivers and demanded city leaders implement measures against speeding.

The Aug. 3 crash resulted in the deaths of Burbank resident Jaiden Johnson, Pasadena resident and John Burroughs High School alumnus Cerain Baker, and Calabasas resident Natalee Moghaddam. A fourth person who was driving the group’s vehicle was hospitalized after the collision, but has since been discharged, according to Sgt. Emil Brimway of the BPD. Aghajanyan, then described only as the driver of the Kia, was also severely injured and taken to a hospital. Brimway said he, too, has been released from the trauma center.

The deaths of the three people — all of whom were in their late teens or early 20s — have galvanized many members of the Burbank community and residents of nearby cities. Family members and friends of the crash victims set up a memorial in their honor on the corner of Glenoaks Boulevard and Andover Drive, where the collision occurred. Several have also called on Burbank’s leaders to take action against reckless driving, with an online petition appearing to have been created by Johnson’s stepmother pushing for more police patrols during the night and early morning hours, as well as for the construction of speed bumps and red light cameras.

The petition gained tens of thousands of digital signatures within days of its posting this week.

City Council members have pledged to address speeding concerns, saying they will discuss infrastructure improvements, car accident data and other related topics at a future meeting.