A felon was charged today with fatally shooting three homeless men in Los Angeles, along with the follow-home robbery and slaying of an LA County employee in San Dimas — all within a four-day period.
Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, of Los Angeles, was scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on four counts of murder and one count each of residential robbery and being a felon with a firearm, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
The murder charges include the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder during the commission of a robbery, along with gun use allegations.
Powell could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore and Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Saturday that authorities linked Powell to the fatal shootings of the three homeless men following his arrest in Beverly Hills last week in connection with the San Dimas killing.
A handgun recovered from Powell’s vehicle was used in the three homeless killings, Moore said.
“Our detectives worked closely with sheriff’s investigators and our forensics services overnight. The result of their work has positively identified the handgun recovered from Mr. Powell’s car as being the murder weapon of our three homicides,” he said.
The sheriff said that Beverly Hills police conducted a traffic stop of Powell’s vehicle and that Powell was arrested early last Thursday. Luna said the vehicle was linked to Powell after the San Dimas killing, which occurred just before 7 p.m. Tuesday in the garage of a home in the 1800 block of Hawkbrook Drive.
The first homeless killing occurred around 3 a.m. last Sunday in the 800 block of West 110th Street in the Westmont area near Watts, followed by another at about 5 a.m. last Monday in the 600 block of Mateo Street near downtown, and another at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday at South Avenue 18 and South Pasadena Avenue near Lincoln Heights, Moore said.
“Each of the victims were in an open area, be it a sidewalk or alley, they were alone,” Moore said previously. “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.”
According to the chief and the county medical examiner, the victim in the first shooting was Jose Bolanos, 37. Killed last Monday was 62-year-old Mark Diggs. The victim in Wednesday’s shooting was 52-year-old Shawn Alvarez.
Nicholas Simbolon, 42, who worked as a project manager in the Los Angeles County executive office, was found last Tuesday by his wife inside his Tesla in the garage of his San Dimas home, suffering from a gunshot to the upper body, according to witnesses and sheriff’s officials. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Luna said surveillance video determined that Simbolon was apparently followed home from an electric-vehicle charging station in the 200 block of South Citrus Street in West Covina. The suspect approached Simbolon in the garage, stole some unspecified items, then “senselessly” shot him, Luna said.
The sheriff said investigators saw a vehicle of interest on surveillance video that was believed to be connected to the crime. The license plate number of the 2024 gray BMW 440i four-door was entered into an automatic reader system that led to the discovery of the car near Santa Monica Boulevard and Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills, and police pulled the driver over, leading to his arrest.
“If we did not enter that plate into the reader system, this individual that we believe is responsible for at least four murders may have been out there and re-offended,” Luna said.
Luna said the gun found in the vehicle is also believed to be the one used to kill Simbolon. The sheriff said there was no known connection among the four killings, and no known relationship between Powell and Simbolon.
Powell was booked early Thursday morning on suspicion of murder and robbery. According to jail records, he was being held on $2 million bail.
LA Mayor Karen Bass lauded the involved agencies for their coordinated efforts to catch the suspect.
“When we come together as a city and as a region, nothing can stop Los Angeles,” Bass said. “We step up to challenges and we address them.”
In a statement announcing the charges against Powell, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said, “The swift actions of law enforcement undoubtedly saved lives this week.”
Simbolon is survived by his mother, wife and two sons, ages 8 and 10, according to the sheriff.
The homicide was the first in San Dimas since a gang-related killing Dec. 6, 2022, the last of three homicides in the city in 2022, sheriff’s Lt. Hugo Reynaga told City News Service.
County CEO Fesia Davenport said Simbolon was a seven-year county employee, previously working at the county Superior Court, then joining her office in 2019. She said he was “key and instrumental in developing many software apps for the CEO’s office.”
Authorities said they can’t discount the possibility that Powell might have committed other crimes.
“Based on his criminal history, he didn’t just start doing this a week ago,” Luna said.
Anyone with relevant information about Powell was urged to contact police or sheriff’s officials.
The killings struck fear among the city’s vast homeless population, and Bass had urged unhoused people to avoid sleeping alone outdoors and instead seek company or shelter.
“This news is devastating to our city,” Bass said Friday. “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.”
Long Beach also sent out an alert warning anyone sleeping outside to stay in groups and stay alert.