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Jerrid Joseph Powell: Suspect in LA killings of sleeping homeless men is due in court




CNN
 — 

A Los Angeles resident who is suspected of shooting three men last week as they slept — alone and unhoused — is expected to appear in court Monday.

The suspect, Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, was arrested Wednesday in connection with a separate case in which he is accused of fatally shooting a man during a robbery in nearby San Dimas, and investigators were then able to connect him to the killings of the three men in Los Angeles that same week, according to Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore.

Powell is set to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. He is in detention pending the filing of criminal charges, police said in a release Saturday.

The killings targeted some of the city’s most vulnerable residents as police believe the suspect walked up to the men and shot them as they slept on sidewalks or in alleys around Los Angeles, which is home to one of the nation’s largest homeless populations. The spree of violence prompted the city to deploy hundreds of people throughout its streets late last week to warn unhoused communities that a killer was still on the loose.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department/handout/AP

Jerrid Joseph Powell

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, according to police.

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

Investigators have yet to identify a motive in the killings.

Powell was arrested Wednesday evening after the Beverly Hills Police Department conducted a vehicle stop and found he was driving a car connected to the killing of 42-year-old Nicholas Simbolon in San Dimas, about 28 miles east of Los Angeles, according to police.

Powell is accused of following Simbolon to his home in San Dimas on Tuesday, robbing the father of two inside his garage and fatally shooting him, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Officials do not believe Powell had any connection to Simbolon.

The vehicle used by the suspect in Simbolon’s killing is believed to be the same used in the killings of the three men in Los Angeles, and a firearm found inside the car has been connected to the three shootings using ballistic evidence, police said.

Authorities said Powell’s arrest was made possible due to automatic vehicle license plate scanners installed in the city of Beverly Hills, a form of sophisticated policing technology that civil liberties advocates such as the ACLU have long warned poses privacy concerns. Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna acknowledged critics of the technology during a news conference Saturday but said, “If we did not enter that plate into the system, this individual that we believe is responsible for at least four murders may have been out there and reoffended.”

As authorities were still searching for a suspect on Friday, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’s office deployed more than 400 people from city departments, housing service providers and other regional agencies to warn unhoused people of the threat.

The mayor urged residents not to sleep alone on the city’s streets. “Seek shelter, seek services, stay together, seek support.”

“This is a killer who is preying on the unhoused,” Bass warned.

People experiencing homelessness in the city already face dangerous conditions every day, she said, noting four to five unhoused people die each day due to a range of causes, including violence.

CNN’s Josh Campbell, Sarah Moon and Raja Razek contributed to this report.



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