LAPD searches for 'General Hospital' actor's killers, seeks fingerprints, video

A man in a blue suit, black tie and white dress shirt posing in front of a gray background at a movie premiere
Johnny Wactor arrives at the world premiere of "The Mule" in 2018 in Los Angeles. The actor was killed Saturday morning in downtown L.A. (Willy Sanjuan / Invision / Associated Press)

Los Angeles police detectives are collecting surveillance video and searching for fingerprints as they look for the group of catalytic converter thieves who killed "General Hospital's" Johnny Wactor on Saturday morning in downtown L.A.

Wactor was killed around 3:25 a.m. while leaving a bar where he worked. He encountered three people near Pico Boulevard and Hope Street trying to steal the car part, authorities said. One of the thieves shot Wactor, 37, before fleeing.

Law enforcement sources say police are trying to pull prints from Wactor's car and are looking for video from the area. They also are checking to see whether there are any connections to other nearby catalytic converter thefts. LAPD investigators say they have seen an uptick in violence when such thieves are confronted.

On Tuesday, LAPD officials released additional information about the crime.

"When Wactor arrived at his vehicle, he was confronted by three individuals who had Wactor’s vehicle raised up with a floor jack and were in the process of stealing the catalytic converter," authorities said in a news release. "Without provocation, the victim was shot by one of the individuals. The three suspects involved were wearing all dark clothing and driving a dark-colored sedan."

Read more: 'General Hospital' actor Johnny Wactor's slaying during L.A. robbery sparks shock, anger, mourning

Catalytic converters, which control exhaust emissions, are typically found in the undercarriage of a vehicle and contain precious metals including rhodium, palladium and platinum. Thieves can make hundreds of dollars selling them to auto parts suppliers or scrap yards, where they can be melted down and the valuable metals extracted.

Thefts of catalytic converters skyrocketed in California during the COVID-19 pandemic, which some attributed to increased economic distress. The trend prompted new state laws that make it illegal for recyclers to buy the parts from anyone other than the vehicle's legal owner or a licensed dealer and increased penalties for buyers who fail to certify that a catalytic converter wasn’t stolen.

Read more: With thefts still high, California Prius drivers wait months for new catalytic converters

Police say it’s difficult to hold thieves accountable because they cannot always prove that a person in possession of a stolen car part had a role in the theft.

In 2022, there were approximately 8,000 reported catalytic converter thefts across Los Angeles. Numbers from 2023 were not immediately available.

Wactor played Brando Corbin on “General Hospital” from 2020 to 2022. He had roles on other shows, including “Westworld,” “Criminal Minds” and “Station 19.”

Wactor recently had been exploring opportunities in screenwriting while working as a bartender.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.