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Man killed near homeless encampment in Lincoln Heights

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The Los Angeles Police Department has launched a homicide investigation Thursday after a man was shot and killed near a homeless encampment in Lincoln Heights.

Officer Drake Madison, a spokesman for the LAPD, 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 30s lying on the street. Paramedics were unable to save the man, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Madison said that the investigation is ongoing and the shooting is believed to be gang related. He said it was not known if the man was homeless.

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At the site of the shooting, several tall glass candles were placed on a driveway in front of a black gate with a bullet hole and an evidence marker next to it. A white sign that read “RIP Raymond” hung on one end of the gate.

This small area is mostly industrial with some vacant homes and a small homeless encampment made up of campers, trailers and a few tents. Gang graffiti is scribbled on walls and the sidewalk.

A woman from the encampment who declined to give her name said she was sleeping in her tent when she heard two gunshots followed by screaming. She said she stepped out of the tent and saw a woman with a man lying on the ground.

“She said, ‘Come over here, he’s dying,’ and that she couldn’t feel a pulse,” the woman said.

The woman said several people from the encampment were trying to help the man but didn’t know what to do. Some were trying to resuscitate him. Within minutes police officers arrived and told everyone to clear the area.

“I never found out if he survived or died,” the woman said.

When she learned that he didn’t, she shook her head.

The fatal shooting marks the first homicide for Lincoln Heights this year, according to the L.A. Times Homicide Report. Seven people were killed in the neighborhood last year.

As of last month, the city of Los Angeles has seen 146 homicides this year, compared with the 140 at the same point last year.

Amid a surge in violence last summer, LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission that much of the violence was related to gangs as well as people experiencing homelessness.

He said gangs have targeted homeless people, often over debts and drugs, and that encampment residents sometimes have interpersonal disputes that end in violence

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Earlier this year, at least two homeless men were killed in nearby shootings in Pacoima. It was not known whether the shootings were related.

In Los Angeles County, deaths among homeless people have been climbing since 2014, when there were 630 reported cases compared with 1,737 in 2020, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

Those numbers increased dramatically when the pandemic hit in 2020. According to the coroner’s third annual report on mortality among people experiencing homeless, it found that 1,988 people had died between April 2020 through March 2021, a 56% increase over the year before.

Officials attributed 78% of the deaths to drug overdoses, which was mostly among younger people between the ages 18 and 29. The second-leading cause was homicide, followed by traffic accidents.

Times staff writer Kevin Rector contributed to this report.

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