Suspect arrested in 4 Los Angeles area homicides that took place in 4 days: Police

The victims included three homeless men, police said.

December 2, 2023, 10:20 PM

Four fatal shootings that occurred in the Los Angeles area this week -- including the unprovoked killings of three men who were all experiencing homelessness -- have been linked to one suspect, police said.

The suspect -- identified as Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33 -- was arrested in the killings of the three unhoused men, who were shot while sleeping alone on a sidewalk or an alley in Los Angeles, police said Saturday.

Powell was already in custody for another homicide that occurred in Los Angeles County this week involving a follow-home robbery, police said.

The serial killings spanned four days -- from Sunday to Wednesday. The suspect was taken into custody in connection with the robbery-homicide on Thursday, officials said.

PHOTO: The Los Angeles Police Department has released this image from surveillance video of the person they believe is responsible for the deaths of three homeless people.
The Los Angeles Police Department has released this image from surveillance video of the person they believe is responsible for the deaths of three homeless people.
The Los Angeles Police Department

Authorities announced they were seeking a potential serial killer in the shootings of the unhoused men on Friday.

"Twenty-four hours ago we announced there was a killer on the loose. Now he is in custody," Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said at a press briefing on Saturday.

Powell's vehicle was at the scene of all three homicides of the unhoused men, and a handgun recovered from the vehicle was "positively identified" as the murder weapon, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore told reporters. The vehicle and handgun were also linked to the home robbery shooting, authorities said.

PHOTO: The Los Angeles Police Department released this image during a press conference of the car believed to have been driven by the person who killed three homeless people in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Police Department released this image during a press conference of the car believed to have been driven by the person who killed three homeless people in Los Angeles.
KABC

In the shootings of the unhoused men, the first victim -- a 37-year-old man, was killed at about 3 a.m. on Sunday, police said. The second victim, 62 years old, was attacked at about 4:55 a.m. Monday, and the third, a 52-year-old man, was killed around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

A motive in the shootings has not yet been established, according to Chief Moore, who said the men were murdered "without provocation."

Moore told ABC News he did not believe the suspect started killing on Sunday.

"I'm highly suspicious of that. I don't see how when you look at the sequence of accounts in four days, four individuals are brutally murdered, and the manner in which they occurred. I'm highly suspicious that this did not start just Sunday morning, less than a week ago," Moore told ABC News.

Moore said it is possible Powell may have committed robberies, as demonstrated with the San Dimas murder, or may have committed another crime outside of the Los Angeles region, since he showed a willingness to allegedly travel as far as San Dimas, which is a great distance from Downtown Los Angeles.

The home-robbery shooting occurred on Tuesday. Powell is accused of following the victim from a charging station in West Covina to the victim's home in San Dimas, authorities said.

"Upon taking the personal belongings, the suspect senselessly shot the victim and fled the crime scene," The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a press release.

The victim -- 42-year-old Nicholas Simbolon -- died from his injuries, the sheriff's department said. Simbolon was a father of two who worked for the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office as a project manager in the I.T. department, authorities said.

Detectives identified a vehicle of interest from surveillance footage in that case -- a 2024 Gray BMW -- which was entered into a law enforcement database as a "Wanted, Armed and Dangerous" vehicle, authorities said.

An automatic license plate reader system was used to flag the suspect's whereabouts and he was arrested following a traffic stop in Beverly Hills Wednesday night, police said. He was booked early Thursday for robbery and murder and is being held on $2.1 million bail.

"Had they not had those access to those tools, this individual I am convinced would still be moving about the city, in the region, and killing individuals, innocent individuals, helpless individuals," Moore said.

Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook defended the controversial license plate reader technology used to apprehend Powell. Once a license plate is entered into a regional database, as in this instance, cameras located in Beverly Hills picked up the license plate, immediately notifying the jurisdiction’s real time watch center that a car involved in a crime was located within city limits. Officers were then dispatched to the location and arrested Powell.

Authorities are investigating whether the suspect may be linked to other cases.

Regarding the possibility of additional victims, Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna told ABC News, "Based on his criminal history, he didn't just start doing this a week ago. So, this is why we're using you as a partner to make sure that with his picture and this information, if anybody believes that they may have been a victim of a crime and this individual perpetrated it, you need to contact us right away."

"Because at the end of the day, we want to make sure that if he did commit other crimes, that he's held accountable for each and every one of them," he added.

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