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Transient arrested in L.A. councilman's office amid security breach

By David Zahniser

4:47 PM PST, February 3, 2014

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A homeless man bypassed security systems at Los Angeles City Hall last week, going into a councilman's office where he wrote on a wall and chased away aides before being arrested, city officials said.

The transient, described by police as being under the influence of narcotics, breached security shortly before 4 p.m., entering through doors on the building's Spring Street side that are typically locked to the public. The man walked through those doors as someone else was exiting the building, according to an advisory issued by the Los Angeles Police Department to city employees.

The transient, wearing no shirt and no shoes, went to Councilman Mike Bonin's fourth-floor council office, where he jumped over a receptionist's desk and told everyone to leave, said David Graham-Caso, Bonin's spokesman. The staffers complied and went to Councilman Tom LaBonge's nearby office, where they activated the panic alarm that contacted police, he said.

"It concerns me that it could have been much much worse," said Councilman Mitchell Englander, who has spent the past few months leading the effort to create a new security plan for the building. "It just shows the vulnerabilities."

City Hall has had an array of security measures in place since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, with visitors required to go through a metal detector at the building's Main Street entrance. Security officers are frequently stationed at the building's other doors, which are accessible only to employees with key cards.

Police plan to look at measures to “make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said LAPD Cmdr.r Andrew Smith.

Robert Carp, 26, was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, vandalism and being under the influence of a controlled substance, police said. Before he was apprehended, he used a marker to write a message on one of the office’s walls. “It appeared to say ‘The cartel is after me,’” Graham-Caso said.

Bonin and his spokesman were out of the office and attending a benefit for a Westside homeless shelter when the incident occurred.

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Twitter: @davidzahniser

david.zahniser@latimes.com