The Los Angeles Police Department launched a homicide investigation Thursday after a man was fatally shot near a homeless encampment in Lincoln Heights.
LAPD spokesman Officer Drake Madison said paramedics responded at 3:08 a.m. to a report of a gunshot victim near the intersection of North Avenue 18 and Pasadena Avenue.
When paramedics arrived, they found a man in his thirties lying in the street. Paramedics were unable to save the man and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Madison said the investigation is ongoing and the shooting is thought to be gang-related. He said it was not known if the man was homeless.
At the site of the shooting, several large glass candles were placed on an aisle in front of a black door with a bullet hole and an evidence marker next to it. A white sign reading “RIP Raymond” hung on one end of the door.
This small area is mostly industrial with a few vacant houses and a small homeless encampment consisting of campers, trailers and a few tents. Gang graffiti is scrawled on the walls and sidewalk.
A woman in the camp who declined to be named said she was sleeping in her tent when she heard two gunshots followed by screams. She said she came out of the tent and saw a woman with a man lying on the ground.
“She said, ‘Come here, he’s dying’ and she couldn’t feel the pulse,” the woman said.
The woman said several people in the camp were trying to help the man but didn’t know what to do. Some were trying to resuscitate him. A few minutes later, police arrived and told everyone to clear the area.
“I never found out if he survived or died,” the woman said.
When she learned no, she shook her head.
The fatal shooting marks the first homicide in Lincoln Heights this year, according to the LA Times Homicide Report. Seven people were killed in the neighborhood last year.
Since last month, the city of Los Angeles has recorded 146 homicides this year, compared to 140 at the same time last year.
Amid a spike in violence last summer, LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission that much of the violence was linked to gangs as well as homeless people.
He said gangs have targeted homeless people, often because of debt and drugs, and camp residents sometimes have interpersonal conflicts that end in violence.
Earlier this year, at least two homeless people were killed in nearby shootings in Pacoima. It was unclear if the shootings were related.
In Los Angeles County, homeless deaths have been increasing since 2014, when 630 cases were reported compared to 1,737 in 2020, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.
These numbers increased dramatically when the pandemic hit in 2020. According to the Coroner’s third annual homeless mortality report, it found that 1,988 people had died between April 2020 and March 2021, an increase of 56%. compared to the previous year.
Authorities attributed 78% of deaths to drug overdoses, which mostly involved young people between the ages of 18 and 29. The second leading cause was homicide, followed by traffic accidents.
Times writer Kevin Rector contributed to this report.
Los Angeles Times