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Homeless veteran stabbed to death at encampment near VA in West L.A.

A man at a homeless encampment
GemBob Brookhyser, who lives at the encampment near the VA, said he woke up to screaming.
(Dakota Smith / Los Angeles Times)

A veteran living in a homeless encampment in West Los Angeles was stabbed to death early Wednesday, officials said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives arrested another unhoused man in connection with the attack, which occurred about 6:30 a.m. in the 11600 block of San Vicente Boulevard in an unincorporated area near Brentwood.

Deputies responding to calls of a stabbing found a man badly wounded. Paramedics took the man to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim’s name has not been released. Law enforcement sources said the man was stabbed by another man who lived in the encampment after he interceded in a domestic dispute involving his assailant.

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GemBob Brookhyser, who lives with his girlfriend in a tent near the one of the man who was killed, said he called 911 early Wednesday.

Yellow police tape surrounds part of a homeless encampment
Police tape surrounds a section of the homeless encampment on San Vicente Boulevard where a man was stabbed to death.
(Dakota Smith / Los Angeles Times)

“I woke up to the screams,” said Brookhyser, who watched as sheriff’s deputies walked up and down San Vicente Boulevard on Wednesday afternoon.

Yellow tape lined the street. A wheelchair, said to be owned by the man who was killed, was propped up against the curb.

Brookhyser said his girlfriend wouldn’t let him leave their tent to investigate because she was worried.

Julian Saucedo, who also lives in a tent on San Vicente Boulevard, said fights over property aren’t uncommon. “There’s definitely violence,” he said. “It happens in an instant.”

The encampment is outside the West L.A. Veterans Affairs facilities. Dozens of veterans live at the encampment, sometimes called Veterans Row, where some tents are decorated with U.S. flags.

Inside the Veterans Affairs campus is a sanctioned camping site, as well as other types of shelter.

Last month, the county and Sheriff’s Department cleaned up the street, but they did not relocate the unhoused population.

It is the second homicide connected with the encampment in the past six months. In April, Pedro Flores, 34, was arrested on suspicion of murder and assault with a deadly weapon after he ran over another person living in the encampment. Flores allegedly dragged the man’s body 200 yards under his vehicle.

Just a month before, a car careened through the encampment, injuring three people.

City Atty. Mike Feuer, who is running for mayor, held a media briefing Wednesday afternoon across the street from the encampment and called on county officials to remove the tents and shelter the veterans who live there. The area where the stabbing occurred is within Los Angeles County, not the city.

“It is time for there to be action. It is time for this encampment to end,” Feuer said. “For its residents to be housed, for the sidewalks to be clear.”

Feuer also suggested those living on the street could find resources inside the campus. But it’s not clear if everyone living on San Vicente Boulevard would be eligible to live there.

Feuer laid out his vision for tackling the city’s homelessness crisis, saying that if elected mayor he would declare a state of emergency that would allow the city to commandeer private property to use for shelter.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his homeless outreach team was assessing the camp.

L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents the area, said that she was “deeply saddened” to learn of the homicide and that her office has been working with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority at the site. The goal is to get the 35 or so homeless individuals into housing over the next two to three months, she said.

“Almost all current residents of this encampment are already connected to a VA housing resource, including vouchers, and many are actively looking for an apartment,” Kuehl said. “But it’s clear we must accelerate the pace at which people are moved off the street. Further loss of life in this encampment is simply unacceptable.”


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