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‘General Hospital’s’ Johnny Wactor killed in catalytic converter heist; family, friends ‘heartbroken’

“General Hospital” actor Johnny Wactor was fatally shot early Saturday when he came upon three men trying to steal the catalytic converter from his car, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the case.

The incident occurred around 3:25 a.m. when the owner of a vehicle encountered three people near Pico Boulevard and Hope Street attempting to steal the car part, said Officer Jader Chaves, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department. The man was shot by one of the thieves before all three fled in a vehicle, said Chaves. The officer did not identify the victim but said he was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A source on Sunday confirmed to The Times that the victim was Wactor, who played Brando Corbin on “General Hospital” from 2020 to 2022. He also had roles on other shows, including “Westworld,” “Criminal Minds” and “Station 19.”

Wactor, who had been working as a bartender in downtown L.A. on Saturday evening, was walking a co-worker to her car after their shift, Wactor’s brother, Grant Wactor, told The Times on Sunday. On the way, he noticed a group of men crowded around his car, and he confronted them because he thought he was being towed.

That was when he was shot.

The thieves were after Wactor’s catalytic converter, police said. The exhaust emission control device is typically found in the undercarriage of a vehicle and contains precious metals including rhodium, palladium and platinum. Thieves can make hundreds of dollars selling them to auto parts suppliers or scrapyards, where they can be melted down and the valuable metals extracted.

“My mother is tough as nails, but she’s broken down to the bone,” said Grant Wactor, Johnny’s younger brother. “We have to get him back to Charleston [S.C.]. It’s just a shame. It seems like it was just the wrong place, wrong time.”

Wactor, 37, left “General Hospital” in 2022 when his popular character was written out of the show. At the time, he told Soap Opera Digest he enjoyed the show’s large and loyal fan base.

“It was all new to me, and it was a blessing,” he said. “It made it fun to go to work and then be excited about seeing people react to the storylines you were in. That they actually cared was really cool.”

Grant Wactor said his brother was drawn to acting from an early age. Growing up in Sommerville, S.C., Johnny participated in every play he could in his elementary and middle schools. Not long after graduating from the College of Charleston in 2009, he packed up his Honda Civic and made the cross-country drive to Los Angeles to begin his acting career.

“I can’t emphasize how hard of a worker he was,” Grant Wactor said. “He would flip the Scrabble board at home because he was so competitive. But he was also one of the most charismatic people I knew. Because when he talked or listened, you could tell it was genuine.”

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

“He lived life his way,” Grant Wactor said. “He did exactly what he wanted, even to his last day. That’s who he was day in, day out. He walked the walk.”

Former colleagues took to social media to mourn Wactor’s death on Sunday.

“Johnny Wactor was a beautiful, beautiful soul,” former “General Hospital” actor Parry Shen said on X. “We all were cheated of many years with him.”

Jon Lindstrom, a longtime cast member on the ABC soap, posted: “I am literally sick to my stomach at this news.” He called Wactor “one of those rare young men in this business who was kind, unassuming, humble.”

“General Hospital” issued a statement saying the soap opera family was “heartbroken to hear of Johnny Wactor’s untimely passing. He was truly one of a kind and a pleasure to work with each and every day. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones during this difficult time.”

His co-star and love interest on the show, Sofia Mattsson, added: “So genuine. So caring. Incredibly hard working and humble. With a huge heart that spread so much kindness and joy. He always made sure everyone around him felt seen, heard and loved. I admire the man he was so much and I’m a better person for having known him.”

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

Times staff writer Alex Wigglesworth contributed to this report.

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