Suspect in custody in killings of 3 homeless men in Los Angeles

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The Los Angeles Police Department announced Saturday that a suspect has been identified in connection with the killings of three homeless men this week.

The suspect, Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, was already in custody after being arrested in the killing of a county employee earlier in the week.

Powell was arrested Thursday and accused of shooting and killing a San Dimas, California, father of two during a follow-home robbery on Tuesday.

This image released by police shows a person suspected in the killings of three homeless people in Los Angeles.
This image released by police shows a person suspected in the killings of three homeless people in Los Angeles.LAPD

Police Chief Michel Moore said Saturday that they were able to match Powell’s car, seen in surveillance footage from the Tuesday killing, to the car they had identified as being driven by the suspect responsible for the killings of the three homeless people.

A handgun found in that car also matched the weapon used in the three homeless killings, police said.

Moore said the case has a “striking set of circumstances that is puzzling.”

Powell was arrested early Thursday in Beverly Hills on charges of murder and robbery after detectives and the Beverly Hills Police Department identified the vehicle used in the Tuesday killing, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. The BHPD was then able to arrest the suspect at a traffic stop after matching his license plate to that of the car used in the Tuesday killing.

“The next objective is to put this guy away at minimum forever because he doesn’t deserve to be out on the street,” Luna said.

Police had been searching for the gunman responsible of killing three sleeping homeless people in Los Angeles this week before connecting Powell to the crimes.

Police had believed that the same person was responsible for all three deaths.

The three separate attacks took place in the early hours of Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, Moore said Friday.

All three people killed are men. The victims were all asleep in open areas — like alleys or sidewalks — when they were shot and killed, Moore said.

One of the men was killed “brutally and ruthlessly” while he was sleeping on a couch, Moore said, and another as he was leaned against a wall in a manner he described as “chilling.”

The third was fatally shot as he slept on a sidewalk, police said. The identities of the three men have not been publicly released.

A motive had not been established.

All three killings happened in different places in two large areas of L.A. which are not frequented by large numbers of homeless people, Moore said.

Mayor Karen Bass cautioned Friday that no homeless person should sleep alone and said the city would be opening emergency shelters to house homeless people for the time being.

District Attorney George Gascón said there will be an emergency shelter available for homeless people Saturday night.

“Our message to the unhoused community is clear: Do not sleep alone tonight,” Bass said at the Friday news conference. “Seek shelter, seek services, stay together.”

Powell was jailed Thursday in the death of Nicholas Simbolon, 42, who was found dead in his garage in San Dimas on Tuesday night.

Luna said Thursday that it appeared the suspect followed Simbolon 12 miles from an electric vehicle charging station to his home. The suspect robbed Simbolon of “some personal belongings” before shooting him and fleeing the scene, Luna said.

Simbolan was a county employee for seven years. He’d worked as a business systems analyst for the superior court and in 2019 joined the IT staff of the Chief Executive Office as a principal systems analyst, officials said.

“He was a prolific developer who had recently completed an innovative IT system to process our county’s budget process,” Kathyrn Barger with the county Board of Supervisors said in a statement read at a news conference Thursday announcing Powell’s arrest. “His coworkers describe him as kind, gentle and hardworking person.”

Officials did not announce any charges for Powell on Saturday.

Police are asking anyone with information on the suspect, including other crimes Powell may have committed, to come forward. He was described as a convicted felon who had “violence in his background.”

“We want to make sure that anybody who may have been a victim of this individual that they come forward and notify your own police department,” Luna said.

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