Authorities announced Saturday afternoon that they have identified and arrested a suspect in connection with the killings of three homeless men in Los Angeles this week, and have linked him to a fourth homicide nearby.
The suspect, identified as Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, of Los Angeles, was arrested Thursday morning and already in custody on suspicion of robbing and killing a father of two in San Dimas, California, on Tuesday. Officials said Powell followed the victim to her home.
The three homeless victims, all men who were alone in an alley or vacant lot, were shot and killed early Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, authorities said. Two of the victims, identified as Jose Bolanos, 37, and Mark Diggs, 62, both suffered gunshot wounds to the head, according to the coroner’s report. The identity of the third victim has not been determined as next of kin has not yet been notified.
Authorities said a motive for these killings has not yet been determined.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said authorities have identified a vehicle believed to have been used in all four murders and was already in custody in connection with the killing of 42-year-old Nicolas Simbolon in San Dimas. He said he linked it to Mr. Powell. Officials said the person was a county employee.
A handgun found in the car also matched the weapon used to kill the three homeless men, authorities said.
As of Saturday night, it was unclear whether Powell had legal representation or when he would be arraigned.
“We are grateful that the suspect in this case is in custody and no longer poses a threat to our community,” Chief Moore said.
Residents in the city also expressed relief. Adrian Mendoza, 33, an administrative staff member at a community college who lives in Lincoln Heights, a few blocks from the scene where the third homeless victim was killed, said he was satisfied with the arrest, but that He lamented how vulnerable residents were.
“Obviously, it’s good that they were caught, but it’s unfortunate and not surprising that someone would target the most vulnerable communities to vent their frustrations,” he said, adding that it’s not surprising that someone like Los Angeles would target the most vulnerable communities to vent their frustrations. He added that one of the world’s largest cities should be arrested. You can help the homeless community.
In June, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reported in its latest count that the number of homeless people in the city was 46,260, an increase of 10% from a year earlier.
According to Crosstown, a nonprofit newsroom that analyzes LAPD data, 92 homeless or “transient” people were murdered in Los Angeles in 2022, a number that has steadily increased in recent years.
The announcement of Mr Powell’s arrest came a day after police announced the killings of three homeless men, said they believed the attacks were connected and appealed to the public for help.
On Friday, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said the perpetrators were “preying on people who are unhoused.” Her office said it would open emergency shelters, and she and other officials urged people sleeping on the streets in surrounding areas to seek shelter indoors or avoid sleeping alone.
The Los Angeles Mission, a longtime nonprofit that helps homeless people, sent an outreach team to canvas the Skid Row neighborhood to educate people about the situation and available resources.
On Saturday, before the arrest was announced, residents and workers in the Westmont neighborhood of south-central Los Angeles, where one of the homeless men was killed, expressed fear and a sad realization of the dangers the city’s homeless population faces every day. He expressed mixed emotions. . Some residents were unaware that there was a murderer. “This is the way it is,” said Bernard Johnson, 62, a housekeeper at a U-Haul in Westmont. “I hate to see things like that happen to people, but that’s the way the world is today.”
Dayton Wafer, 76, a retired telephone engineer who has lived in the neighborhood for 47 years, said he fears for his wife. But he added that he is used to homelessness in the area, pointing to a pickup truck parked on the street where homeless people have been sleeping for months.
“We live in a corrupt society,” he said. “There are people who are looking for an opportunity to do evil.”
Jill Cowan and corina knoll Contributed to the report.