After exchanging words with a passerby, a homeless man in North Hollywood was fatally shot Saturday night — one of more than a dozen people shot or killed during a violent weekend in Los Angeles, where homicides are on the rise.
"Last night was a tragically violent night in Los Angeles," LAPD Chief Michel Moore tweeted on Sunday. "Together, we must confront this challenge and vehemently reject this trend — we will not let those that wish to tear at the fabric of our city succeed."
Moore's comments came about 48 hours after he joined community leaders across town in South L.A. to denounce a "spasm" of violence spurred on there by what police officials said was gang vengeance and a disregard for the safety of children and elderly residents.
From Friday to Monday, three people were killed and 10 people shot and wounded across L.A., police confirmed Monday. Two of the killings were shootings, one a stabbing. Such numbers aren't that rare for a weekend in L.A. but contribute to a clip of violence in 2020 that has killings and shootings up significantly over last year.
Of the fatal North Hollywood shooting on Saturday night, police said officers responded at about 10:30 p.m. to a call about shots fired in the 11300 block of Magnolia Boulevard, and found the homeless victim lying wounded on the sidewalk. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Police said witnesses said that the homeless man "exchanged words with the suspect, who was walking west on Magnolia Boulevard," and that the suspect "became upset, produced a handgun and shot the victim multiple times" before fleeing.
Police were still seeking the suspect Monday. The victim had not been identified and was listed as a "John Doe" on the LAPD's books.
Police are struggling to get a hold of an increase in shootings that began this summer and has continued into the fall. While the coronavirus pandemic and associated shutdowns have helped drive a decline in crime overall, shootings and killings are up — with about 15% more homicides so far this year, compared with last. Arrests, including for violent crimes, are down by about 25% compared with last year.
The violence has caught the attention of some in the city who saw an effort by protesters to defund the Police Department this summer — and a corresponding cut of $150 million from the LAPD budget by the City Council — as ill-conceived. Supporters of the reforms say the violence is not a result of the changes but of societal issues that have been ignored for years as policing has gobbled up too much of the city's budget.
The LAPD has cut overtime for all but the most necessary work. But last week in South L.A., police officials said officers have not slowed down their efforts to confront violent crime. They also pleaded with the community for help, saying they can't stop the violence on their own.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.