Yesterday, John covered the shocking number of homeless people who are dying in the streets in Los Angeles. Most of them are dying of causes you might expect to see among the homeless population, including drug overdoses, exposure, and a lack of access to basic healthcare services. Unfortunately, now there are a couple more bodies to add to the toll, but for a very different reason. Two homeless people were shot dead, seemingly at random, in drive-by shootings. This is something we’ve already witnessed in Washington and New York City, but the lethal trend appears to have spread to the west coast. (CBS News)
Two homeless men were gunned down in as many days, just a mile apart, in Pacoima over the weekend.
Both shootings appear to be drive-bys, but police have not said if they are connected.
The most recent shooting happened at 6:45 p.m. Sunday at Paxton Street and Dronfield Avenue. A 36-year-old man who was standing on the sidewalk near a 118 Freeway overpass was approached by another man of about the same age in a vehicle, according to the LAPD. After asking a few questions, the LAPD says the man in the vehicle fired several gunshots at the pedestrian.
Police can’t say at this point whether the two shootings are related or if they were potentially carried out by the same shooter. I suppose it’s possible that at least one of them wasn’t entirely random since the suspect reportedly pulled up in his car and spoke to the victim briefly before killing him and driving away. The other victim was found “in a ravine” but the police said that both of them looked like drive-bys.
We saw shootings like this last month, as I mentioned above. Five homeless people were shot in New York City and Washington, with two of them dying. Chilling surveillance video of one of the shootings showed up in the news quickly. A suspect, 30-year-old Gerald Brevard III, was arrested later that month thanks to tips received after his image was made public. He’s still in custody, so the perpetrator (or perpetrators) in Los Angeles must be someone else.
You have to wonder what the motivation for this sort of violence could possibly be. I suppose anyone can get into a feud that leads to violence, including the homeless, but this just all seems so random. Do we simply have some sick individuals out there who harbor a dark fantasy of “hunting” human beings? If so, the homeless probably look like appealing targets since they tend to congregate in areas that are less likely to have a strong police presence or plentiful security cameras.
Hopefully, the shooter will be identified and apprehended. But these tragic incidents bring us back to the point John was making yesterday. This situation is obviously not tenable and it never has been. A long-term, comprehensive solution to the homeless crisis needs to be found, though no easy or obvious solutions have been proposed yet. John made the politically unpopular observation yesterday that some people, predominantly alcoholics and drug addicts who have hit rock bottom, have made a conscious decision to be homeless and spend their days in an endless search for their next fix. If they won’t accept help in treating their addictions, there is little that can be done for them. But if we want them off of the streets, a place has to be found for them to go. Some of the homeless have serious mental disorders. They probably belong in an involuntary mental health facility more than they do in a homeless shelter. And the fact that random killers are going around and gunning them down now makes the need for solutions all the more urgent.