The city of Long Beach is warning anyone sleeping outside to stay alert after a series of killings targeting homeless people in Los Angeles.
“Los Angeles Recently reported three murders targeting people experiencing homelessness,” the city said in a text message alert sent Friday evening. “As a precaution, we recommend people who are sleeping on the street stay in groups and stay alert.”
They also advised anyone looking to get off the street to call 211 to see if any shelter is available.
The warning comes amid a manhunt that began today for a person believed to have fatally shot three homeless people in separate attacks in the city of Los Angeles.
We’re aware of the recent murders in LA and our officers will remain vigilant. As always, we encourage our community to “See Something, Say Something” by reporting suspicious activity to Police Dispatch at 562.435.6711. Always call 9-1-1 for emergencies. https://t.co/spA9gPJ1Pv pic.twitter.com/DmWGpCaaTn
— Long Beach PD (CA) (@LBPD) December 2, 2023
“As we know, our homeless individuals are some of our most vulnerable populations,” Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said at a news conference announcing the link among the killings, which occurred in the department’s Central and South bureaus.
The first killing occurred around 3 a.m. Sunday in the 800 block of West 110th Street, followed by another at about 5 a.m. Monday in the 800 block of East Seventh Street, and another at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday South Avenue 18 and South Pasadena Avenue, Moore said.
“Each of the victims were in an open area, be it a sidewalk or alley, they were alone,” Moore said. “… We believe a single individual approached each one and shot and killed each one as they slept. The investigators have gathered physical evidence as well as video images and we’ve identified this possible male lone individual as well as a vehicle.”
The LAPD released surveillance images of the car and the suspect.
There was no immediate description of the exact make or model of the car, or any physical description of the suspect, who is believed to be a man.
According to the chief and the county Medical Examiner, the victim in Sunday’s shooting was Jose Bolanos, 37. Killed on Monday was 62-year-old Mark Diggs. The victim in Wednesday’s shooting was a 52-year-old man, but his name was being withheld pending notification of relatives.
Moore said the department has summoned a task force, bringing in additional investigators and homicide detectives in hopes of tracking down the suspect. He said he has also spoken to Sheriff Robert Luna and police chiefs in Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach to determine if there may be other related homicides outside the city of Los Angeles. Thus far, however, no other related cases have been identified.
A tip line for the public to call with tips was established at 213-486-6890.
Moore said the department has also stepped up patrols in areas frequented by the homeless. But he encouraged people who are homeless and alone on the streets to “seek shelter, and seek opportunities to come in from the streets.”
Mayor Karen Bass echoed that advice.
“This news is devastating to our city,” Bass said. “Living on the streets we already know is dangerous. We already know that four to five people die each day on our streets from a range of causes, and violence is certainly one of them. But I want to be very clear about what we’re facing today. This is a killer who’s preying on the unhoused.”