WAGSWOOFS – On Monday, prosecutors leveled four murder charges against Jerrid Joseph Powell, a 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles. The charges stem from the fatal shootings of three homeless men in Los Angeles the previous month. In addition to the murder charges, Powell is accused of robbery and being a felon with a firearm, as announced by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The charges include special circumstances related to multiple murders.
During Powell’s court appearance on Monday afternoon, accompanied by his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Carlos Bido, he did not enter a plea. The arraignment has been postponed to January 8. The public defender’s office issued a statement emphasizing their commitment to a robust defense for Mr. Powell, adhering to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, in accordance with the principles of the criminal legal system.
Should Powell be convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“I want to extend my deepest appreciation to the incredible men and women of law enforcement who worked tirelessly to bring justice to our community and arrest this individual,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “The swift actions of law enforcement undoubtedly saved lives this week.”
Authorities identify shooting victims
Last week, Powell was initially taken into custody as a suspect in a fatal shooting during a robbery at a residence in San Dimas, located east of Los Angeles. Subsequently, investigators identified him as the suspect in the killings of three homeless men after a firearm discovered in his vehicle was linked to those specific shootings.
The motive behind the attacks on the homeless victims remains unknown, as stated by Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore in a weekend news conference where Powell’s arrest was announced.
The sequence of events unfolded with the discovery of Jose Bolanos, 37, who was found dead with a gunshot wound in a South Los Angeles alley around 3 a.m. on Nov. 26. The following day, Mark Diggs, 62, lost his life when he was shot while pushing a shopping cart near downtown at approximately 5 a.m.
On Nov. 29, the third shooting occurred around 2:30 a.m. in the Lincoln Heights area, leading to the discovery of the lifeless body of a 52-year-old man, whose identity was not immediately disclosed pending family notification.
Simultaneously, Nicholas Simbolon, 42, suffered a fatal gunshot at his San Dimas residence on the evening of Nov. 28. Surveillance images of a suspect vehicle were obtained by authorities, and the subsequent night, a license plate reader in Beverly Hills flagged the vehicle, leading to a traffic stop and Powell’s arrest.
Homelessness crisis in California
Los Angeles holds the unfortunate distinction of having the largest unsheltered homeless population in the United States, with the majority of the estimated 75,500 unhoused residents residing outdoors, in vehicles, and other uninhabitable places, as reported by the Los Angeles County’s Homeless Services Authority.
In response to the series of alarming attacks, Mayor Karen Bass collaborated with the county’s Homeless Services Authority, the city’s Housing Authority, and Housing Department to disseminate information to individuals in nearby areas.
The homelessness crisis, not only in California but nationwide, has created a perilous situation where the physical safety of thousands is jeopardized daily due to the inability to afford housing, according to Eric Tars, the senior policy director for the National Homelessness Law Center.
Eric Tars, on Saturday, placed partial blame on elected officials and policymakers who have opposed the creation of more affordable housing, attributing the killings to the dangerous environment perpetuated by homelessness.
He criticized those in power for redirecting attention to the individual who committed the crimes, emphasizing that true justice is not achieved until the broader issue of homelessness is addressed and individuals are lifted off the streets, out of harm’s way.