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California

Man is held in stabbings of three homeless people

A man was in custody late Friday in connection with the stabbings of three transients while they slept. The attacker left behind rambling “death warrants.”

Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Courtney Anthony Robinson was taken into custody shortly after 9 p.m. by an LAPD Hollywood gang officer. He has since been turned over to robbery-homicide detectives, Smith said.

The detectives will question Robinson overnight, Smith said, adding that it’s “unknown if he will be booked for the attempted murders at this time.”

Smith said LAPD officers working with Santa Monica police located Robinson. Based on the “death warrant” notes left on the victims, officials Thursday called the person they wanted to question David Ben Keyes, who they said has been missing for weeks from the Santa Barbara area. On Friday, they said his real name was Courtney Anthony Robinson.

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Earlier Friday, homeless people were being cautioned to seek shelter.

At the Union Rescue Mission in downtown L.A., workers handed out bottles of cold water — along with a verbal warning.

With no Internet access or newspaper subscriptions, the only way for the city’s homeless to get the information is by word of mouth.

“We just let them know that they can stay with us, and verbally warn them about what’s going on in the news,” said Kitty Walker-Davis, the shelter’s spokeswoman.

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Officers in the central city area circulated a photo of Robinson among the homeless and urged them to seek shelter, said LAPD spokeswoman Norma Eisenman. Police also increased nighttime patrols and directed social services agencies to brace for an influx of the homeless.

The Union Rescue Mission, one of the city’s largest nonprofit homeless shelters with 800 beds, posted warning fliers around its building and announced the news about the stabbings at three daily lunches.

The nearby Midnight Mission was also preparing to accommodate more overnight sleepers.

Peter Griffith, communications director for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said he’s encouraging everyone to be more cautious.

“Not everybody takes the offer of shelter, so it’s good to be in groups and stay in places that are well-lit. Report anything that’s suspicious,” Griffith said.

The first attack was reported July 3 when a 56-year-old man was found bleeding with a large “hunting type” knife protruding from his back near 3rd and Main streets in downtown Los Angeles, according to law enforcement sources.

On Tuesday, another man was stabbed in a similar manner as he slept on a Santa Monica bus bench near the Third Street Promenade, officials said. And on Thursday, a 54-year-old woman was stabbed as she slept near La Brea and De Longpre avenues in Hollywood.

At each of the scenes, police said they recovered rambling typewritten “death warrants.”

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Police said they have no motive for the attacks but believe the same person is responsible for all three assaults.

frank.shyong@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com


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