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Suspect arrested in shootings of three homeless men was already in custody for another crime, authorities say

Dec 2, 2023, 6:44 PM

Police say they arrested a man Friday in the investigation of a violent murder in West Valley City....

Police say they arrested a man Friday in the investigation of a violent murder in West Valley City. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

(CNN) — Police in Los Angeles have identified the suspect believed to be responsible for the murders of three of the city’s homeless community who were shot and killed as they slept this week, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore announced on Saturday.

The suspect was identified as Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, a Black male who is a resident of Los Angeles, Moore said.

Powell is also suspected in a fatal shooting during a robbery in San Dimas, about 28 miles east of Los Angeles, Moore added. Powell was already in custody in connection with the San Dimas shooting, authorities said Saturday.

He was arrested Wednesday evening by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during a vehicle stop, the same day as the death of the third homeless victim.

The vehicle police believe was used during the San Dimas robbery was identified as the same vehicle connected to the three homicides, Moore said.

No motive

Officials do not believe there was any connection between Powell and the victim of the robbery, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert G. Luna said on Saturday.

No motive has yet been determined.

“I am grateful that this suspect in this case is in custody and no longer a threat to our community,” Moore said.

Los Angeles authorities said Friday the first killing in the city happened around 3 a.m. Sunday in an alley; the second occurred Monday shortly before 5 a.m. and a third person was killed Wednesday around 2:30 a.m. The victims include two Hispanic men, ages 37 and 52, and a 62-year-old Black man, Moore said.

Moore said Friday each of the killings in the Los Angeles area happened under similar circumstances and each of the victims were believed to be alone and asleep when they were attacked.

Police said they believe a single person approached each victim as they slept, opened fire then walked away, according to Moore. Each victim was experiencing homelessness, alone and killed in an open area, either a sidewalk or an alley, the chief said Friday.

Different crime scenes

The killings happened in various locations in the city, including one near Skid Row, a downtown Los Angeles area known for its large homeless population.

City of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said Friday the homeless community in Los Angeles – home to one of the largest unhoused populations in the country – already faces dangerous conditions daily, with four to five unhoused people dying every single day for a variety of reasons, including violence.

The mayor said following Friday’s news conference, her office convened more than 400 people representing city departments, housing service providers, regional agencies and elected officials to “ensure they would go out about the threat facing our unhoused community and let individuals know of the threat.”

A shooting at a homeless encampment in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon did not initially appear to be related to the fatal shootings in the Los Angeles area, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said.

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Suspect arrested in shootings of three homeless men was already in custody for another crime, authorities say