California

Woman working at downtown L.A. loft complex is lured to her death by a resident, who is then killed by police

Lisa Ramirez was the heart and soul of the Flower Street Lofts.

Every day, she would travel from her home in Pico Rivera to keep the sprawling loft complex — a former UPS distribution center — clean.

She struggled for years with learning disabilities, her family said, and she prized the groundskeeping job. At 32, she was about to get married and was excited about the future.

“She loved life. She loved to laugh. She would call and tell me about the beautiful view and people she helped every day,” says her mother, Virginia Ramirez. “Lisa, she had accomplished so much.”

On Tuesday, just after  3 p.m., Ramirez was working in the open-air courtyard of the complex in the 1100 block of Flower Street, located across from Staples Center and L.A. Live, when one of the tenants, Michael Rogers, ushered her into his unit, police said.

What exactly was said isn’t known. Minutes later, Ramirez was dead of stab wounds. Her body was found in Rogers’ apartment after he was shot dead by Los Angeles police officers on a nearby street, authorities said.

Ramirez’s mother said an investigator told her that security cameras captured Ramirez following Rogers out of the courtyard, then a few minutes later, Rogers dragging her into his apartment.

The violence has stunned residents in the lofts as well as the larger South Park neighborhood of downtown, a fast-growing, fast-gentrifying area around Staples Center.

 “It was a senseless killing. Everyone loved Lisa. She was such a good person,” said David Mayemura, who manages the property.  “She touched everyone who came into contact with her,” he said, his voice quivering with emotion.

A block over on Hope Street, in a small series of upscale shops that includes a Pilates studio, an espresso bar and restaurants, workers say that for a few seconds Tuesday they caught a glimpse of a deranged man with a knife wandering in front of stores and eventually down the block where they heard police and gunfire.

Shortly before that, the man police identified as Rogers had entered one of the new shining apartment towers at the corner of Hope and 11th streets. When the workers later looked outside, they sawthe man lying in the center of the street, surrounded by officers with guns drawn.

Authorities say that moments after killing Ramirez, Rogers walked to the nearby residential tower, made his way to the 15th floor and tried to access a balcony in an apparent effort to commit suicide by jumping off.

Police say building security kicked him out.

Shortly before 5 p.m., a security guard saw Rogers try to carjack an L.A. City Department of Transportation officer, but the officer was able to fend him off.

The transportation officer waved down two LAPD traffic officers, who confronted Rogers on Hope Street between 11th and 12th streets.

Rogers lunged at the driver’s side of the police cruiser with the knife. The officer at the wheel sped forward and made a U-turn, but Rogers entered a nearby exercise studio, frightening customers who scrambled to get away.

He then exited the business and was confronted by officers.

“Rogers continued to walk toward the officers still armed with the large knife,” the Police Department said in a statement Friday.

Standing behind the passenger door of his police cruiser, Officer David Machain yelled at Rogers to stop, police said.

But Rogers ran toward Machain with the knife, screaming, “I’m going to kill you.” Machain again ordered Rogers to stop. Police said he moved to within a few feet of the officer.

That’s when Machain fired several rounds at Rogers, who fell in the middle of the street.

A neighbor captured the moment on a phone camera from a second-floor apartment window. Rogers was declared dead at a hospital, said Capt. Andrew Neiman of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Minutes later, Rogers’ girlfriend discovered Ramirez’s body in their apartment.

Police are trying to determine a motive for the slaying and are looking into Rogers’ background, Neiman said.

According to court records, in 2013 Rogers was convicted of domestic violence in two separate incidents involving partners. He received 45 days in jail for one; for the other, a year plus five years’ probation. In 2015, he was arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse of a girlfriend. That case was still pending.

Ramirez’s family is struggling to understand how she could lose her life doing what she loved.

“It was a nice safe place. When Lisa accepted the job, she was overjoyed,” recalled her mother. “You just don’t know anymore. … Who would want to harm Lisa?”

Mayemura said residents have reached out to the family, hoping to do something.

“People want to attend the memorial service,” he said. “They want to help her family.”

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UPDATES:

9:45 p.m.: This article was updated to clarify the sequence of events leading up to Rogers’ slaying.

12:40 p.m.: This article was updated with information from the manager of the loft complex.

10 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the LAPD.

This article was originally published at 8:55 a.m.