Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Man held for LA homeless stabbings

The three homeless people stabbed in the Los Angeles area survived

Police have arrested a man over the stabbings of three homeless people in the Los Angeles area, who they say goes by a name signed on "death warrants" found with the wounded victims.

Courtney Robinson, 38, called an emergency dispatcher on Friday and said it was his face being distributed on flyers around the city, Commander Andrew Smith said.

Officers found Robinson inside a fast food restaurant in Hollywood and took him into custody without incident. He is in custody charged with attempted murder.

Police previously described him as a possibly homeless man from Santa Barbara who also goes by David Ben Keyes, a name written on notes left at all three stabbing scenes that the writer called "death warrants". Robinson admitted signing the notes, Mr Smith said.

One victim in Santa Monica and two in Los Angeles were stabbed in the back as they slept. The first stabbing occurred on July 3 in central Los Angeles, the only incident where a witness saw a suspect fleeing. The second, on Tuesday, targeted a man as he slept on a bus bench in Santa Monica. The most recent was on Thursday, when a woman was stabbed in Hollywood. The three victims, all in their 50s, survived.

Mr Smith said investigators believe Robinson may also be connected to the unsolved stabbings of two homeless men in Santa Barbara. Detectives described him as lucid and able to converse, but with possible "mental health issues", Mr Smith said.

Earlier police and charities had urged homeless people to seek safety in shelters as news spread of an at-large serial stabber. But they faced the challenge that many street dwellers like being alone because they feel it is less risky or simply because they cannot cope with people due to mental illness.

With robberies, assaults or even rapes frequently occurring on the streets and in shelters, many homeless people have found that survival comes down to finding places where no-one can see them.

But advocates for the homeless say that is also what makes them easy marks for criminals looking for victims in general or homeless people specifically. "People on the street know it's dangerous, but many people want to be on their own," said Herb Smith, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Mission in Skid Row

"They're not socialised. It's part of their condition."