Yesterday, around Noon, I went to meet my brother for lunch near his office at LaBrea and Wilshire.
I was early. We weren’t meeting until 1pm so I took a walk along the south side of Wilshire heading west, passing Detroit, Cloverdale and S. Cochran.
On the north side of Wilshire, I saw a middle-aged Asian woman in a green apron chasing a red-haired, plaid shirted male east towards Detroit. She was screaming, “Stop him! Stop him!” He kept looking back and outran her, eventually boarding a bus parked at Wilshire and LaBrea.
I ran too, crossing the street, breathlessly getting on the bus and telling the driver, “You have a man who just robbed a store on your bus. He is in back. I am calling LAPD!”
The driver waited. I called LAPD and reported a “hold-up” of a store on Wilshire and that the suspect was aboard a Metro bus. The police operator made me repeat the description of the suspect several times (“red hair, plaid shirt, middle-aged, white”).
I stood next to the bus, on the sidewalk and waited. The bus and its passengers, including the suspect, waited.
Then after about ten minutes, cops arrived.
Two police cars, including one unmarked, pulled behind the bus, shoved the rear engine cover up and crouched down, drawing their guns. Another car of cops went in front of the bus, and the police told us to all get out of the way.
I ran to the corner with others, and we watched, behind building at LaBrea, as the cops worked.
Then the driver got off and pointed at me, and a cop, his silver gun drawn, rushed at me and told me to put my hands up, to face the wall, to get down on the ground. His partner also ran at me, and I yelled, “I’m the one who called the police!” My hands up in the air, guns aimed at me, I was suddenly endangered and suspected of something. I don’t know what.
I was told to hand over my wallet and ID. And then I was allowed to put my hands down. The officer asked if my current address was the same as the one on my driver’s license.
“Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir…”
The suspect was removed from the bus, laid down on the sidewalk, handcuffed, and the other passengers got off and ran to another bus, parked down the street.
My brother came out of his office in the Samsung Tower, crossed the street, and asked me what happened.
Sweat poured down my face. We walked over to a restaurant for lunch. I ordered an iced tea, sat down at a table, wiped my face with a napkin and told him the true crime story.
Later, after lunch, I walked down Wilshire to find the lady who had been chasing the robber. I found her inside a little Korean convenience store. The cops had already visited her. Speaking not much English, she thanked me for my apprehension of the suspect, an action that might have ended my own life.
She gave me a cold iced tea.
Oh, and she said the thief had stolen three packs of cigarettes.
Just some normal Saturday morning excitement of leaving to go to the gym at 8am
and witnessing three Latinos running from a home they had just burglarized.
LAPD showed up within minutes, along with helicopters.
The suspect(s) were caught near Van Nuys Boulevard.
After I took these photos, I was walking near a neighbor’s home and found a discarded Disney credit card that had been stolen and thrown into the bushes. I called the cc company and they said it had already been reported.
A few months back, April 17, 2013, to be exact, this community held a meeting at the Columbus Avenue School led by LAPD Officer Vince DiMauro. The topic on everyone’s mind was prostitution, its egregious and omnipresent existence a fact of life on our streets.
The group was well attended and there was seeming agreement that the vice problem was under control. Officer DiMauro assured us that what we thought was a growing problem was actually getting smaller as the LAPD monitored and restrained the famed whore motels, so the Room #37 Blow Job and Penetration Special at the Voyager, was now conducted in cars on Hamlin, Lemay, Burnett, Columbus and Kittridge.
Anecdotal stories are now pouring in from neighbors that the whores are back and bigger than ever.
The morning drive along Sepulveda now includes fat blondes in fishnet stockings, stiletto heels and pink satin dresses; and skintight pink leggings longingly leaning against the light pole at Erwin and Sepulveda. A neighbor, who works nights, assures me that when he returns home at Midnight there are more walking women than drivers in Van Nuys.
The idea that prostitution is under control because it’s out of the motel room and into the streets is ludicrous. What we see and know is what’s going on. The evidence of illegal activity is as apparent as the abandoned couch along the sidewalk.
There was just an election in this ungoverned section of Los Angeles and a new Council Person, Nury Martinez, will represent District #6. Along with her upcoming appearances at Cinco de Mayo festivals, she should take a walk on Sepulveda, camera in hand, in the morning, afternoon or night, and see the spectacle for herself.
From the LAPL files:
“Robert Lee Daily, aka John M. Savage, aka George R. Gibb, was being sought in connection with over 60 burglaries in the Hollywood and Beverly Hills areas. He was shot dead by Investigator James McGrath when Daily tried to flee from McGrath in Encino. Detectives carry body of Robert Lee Daily, burglary suspect, from car in Encino after he was shot by district attorney’s investigator when he assertedly tried to get away. Police found nearly $15,000 in loot in his Woodland Hills home.”
After our monthly American event of mass shooting by semi-automatic weapon, the “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families” will roll out along with the blood, death, dismemberment and tweats.
Speculating on the motives of the killer is also a favorite sport.
The latest one, in Santa Monica, was purported to come from “a bitter divorce”. Which follows that life circumstances might conspire to produce evil.
Looking around, at family and friends, neighbors and people I know, anyone, anywhere could become the next serial killer.
Snippets and surface bios of people I hardly know:
• He lived with his mother, a gravely ill woman, and he had no job, smoked pot all day, and was rarely seen.
• He had an explosive temper, was unmarried at age 38, his backyard was full of dog shit, and he spoke out against corrupt cops.
• She was morbidly obese. Her husband had a bad temper and once ran out on her and didn’t call for three days.
• They were two lesbians living on the edge of poverty. She posted angry screeds online, railing against litter, crime and community indifference.
• He was 53-year-old and earned a living posing nude, but had once been a handsome young actor.
• There were people coming and going onto their property, which was littered with debris, and shopping carts.
• A 44-year-old man, he never spoke of any job he had, was secretive about his profession, and spent his days hiking and biking around the San Fernando Valley.
• He bragged about his guns and frequently lashed out against crime and prostitution in Van Nuys.
Every life, under a microscope, is weird.
Not often is Van Nuys convinced it is a community, but last night, about 40 of us pretended it was, and gathered in the Columbus Avenue School to hear LAPD’s Senior Lead Office Vince DiMauro talk about the crimes that are a trademark of our district: prostitution, gangs, tagging, noise, and vacant properties.
We were in a well-ordered academic hall, which I had last seen at my elementary school, Lincoln Hall in Lincolnwood, IL some four decades ago.
An upright piano, lunch tables stacked into the walls like Murphy beds, a state and a national flag on either side of the stage, a cop speaking kindly to attentive citizens, present among us were these venerable elements of American civic life and values.
And then Donna from the Mary Magdalene Foundation got up to present her plea for the prostitute as victim, which set off some incendiary cerebral explosion in one of the candidates, who found her characterization of whore as human indefensible. His outburst provoked some other outbursts, but the uproar lasted only briefly, and back into good manners we went.
Middle-aged and older women provided, as they usually do, the moral backbone of the meeting. Voices, articulate, erudite, educated, spoke of grating and gross indecencies in the hood: thumping boom-box music parties, tagging, pot smoking derelicts, trash, litter, burglaries. Looking around at the room, at some of the carefully lip-sticked pale faces, nice tailored burgundy jackets and lovely little pink cardigans, one temporarily forgot that outside these school doors life was grosser, poorer and coarser.
Some of the attendees last night came out and admitted to being long-time residents of Van Nuys. One man moved here in 1958, others had been here since 1965, 1973, 1979. They had stayed here, lived and loved it, every bit as much as Sandra Tsing-Loh hated it. And it was those lovers of Van Nuys who go to community meetings. And dare to imagine that life can lawful and orderly, clean and respectful, decent and courageous.
Optimism, inserted into despondency, can be revolutionary.