Los Angeles man suspected of shooting three sleeping homeless men is due in court Monday

Los Angeles man suspected of shooting three sleeping homeless men is due in court Monday

A Los Angeles resident, suspected of shooting three men in their sleep, is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, was arrested in connection with a separate case involving the fatal shooting of a man during a robbery in San Dimas. Investigators subsequently linked him to the killings of three men in Los Angeles the same week, according to Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore. Powell is currently in detention pending the filing of criminal charges.

The victims of the shootings were vulnerable, unhoused individuals, targeted as they slept on sidewalks or in alleys around Los Angeles, a city with a significant homeless population. The series of violent incidents prompted the city to deploy personnel to warn unhoused communities of the ongoing threat.

The first killing occurred around 3 a.m. on a Sunday in an alley, followed by the second on Monday shortly before 5 a.m., and the third on Wednesday around 2:30 a.m. The victims included two Hispanic men aged 37 and 52, and a 62-year-old Black man. The locations of the killings varied, including one near Skid Row, a downtown area known for its large homeless population.

Investigators have yet to identify a motive behind the killings. Powell was apprehended after the Beverly Hills Police Department conducted a vehicle stop, discovering he was driving a car linked to the killing of 42-year-old Nicholas Simbolon in San Dimas. Powell allegedly followed Simbolon to his home, robbed him in his garage, and fatally shot him. Authorities do not believe Powell had any connection to Simbolon. The same vehicle and firearm found inside it have been connected to the three shootings in Los Angeles through ballistic evidence.

Powell’s arrest was facilitated by automatic vehicle license plate scanners in Beverly Hills, a technology that civil liberties advocates, including the ACLU, have raised privacy concerns about. Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna acknowledged the critics but emphasized the role of the technology in preventing further harm.

As authorities searched for the suspect, more than 400 people were deployed to warn unhoused individuals of the threat. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass urged residents not to sleep alone on the streets and emphasized the danger posed by a killer targeting the unhoused population. The city already faces daily risks for people experiencing homelessness, with several deaths occurring regularly due to various causes, including violence.