A serial killer suspected of murdering at least three people in three days is believed to be on the loose targeting people sleeping alone outdoors in Los Angeles.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said on Friday that a single person is thought to be responsible for the killings of three homeless men in separate shootings carried out this week in different parts of the city of Los Angeles.
The shooting murders happened in the early morning hours of Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, according to authorities. One was killed on a couch in an alley. Another was gunned down while sleeping on a sidewalk. A third victim was pushing a shopping cart, stopped near an exterior power outlet, and was shot and killed.
All shootings occurred in open areas and police believe the victims were shot and killed while they slept.
In all three cases, a lone suspect walked up, opened fire, and walked away, Mr Moore said.
Police have released two photos of the suspect as well as a car believed to be involved.
Los Angeles authorities who have been struggling to deal with a homelessness crisis in the city for years urged “unhoused” individuals to “come in” on Friday, Fox News reports.
The city’s police chief described the suspect only as a lone individual believed to be male, wearing a hoodie and other simple clothing. There are no known eyewitnesses. He said that it’s still early in the investigation, but detectives believe the same person committed all three murders.
The victims were not in or near homeless encampments but were on the streets alone.
“We don’t know what the motive is on this, except we know that the targeting is three individuals, sleeping alone, that were houseless,” Mr Moore said.
Other than being homeless, the victims did not have much else in common, he added.
“Those that are alone, do not be alone,” he warned, after Mayor Karen Bass urged people to seek shelters.
“We will find you, we will catch you, and you will be held accountable,” Bass vowed.
A task force has been created under the Robbery-Homicide division which includes investigators from multiple specialties.
“We’re bringing Homicide investigators from throughout the city,” Mr Moore said.
“We’re bringing additional investigators from specialised posts and we have placed our forensic science division on ready so that any forensic evidence that is gathered is also quickly processed and analysed in an effort to identify the person we believe responsible for these three homicides.”
Mr Moore said that he had contacted officials from surrounding cities, looking for similar crimes with similarities.
“We have no unsolved homicides outside the city of Los Angeles,” he added.
“Yet our work continues in identifying whether there are any other shooting victims of persons who are experiencing homelessness, which are unsolved and may have any similarities to these homicides.”