LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Authorities say an 85-year-old man who was standing outside to get a breath of fresh air died Monday after being severely beaten in downtown Los Angeles.
“I was very upset and my heart goes out to his friends,” said Kirk Gaw, who was shaken by the random and deadly attack.
Gaw was grocery shopping when he heard the victim, identified as Dong Yul Lee, screaming for help.
“He chased the man out of the restaurant and then raced toward the senior citizen – the victim – and knocked him over and started stomping on his head,” said Gaw of the suspect. “He was yelling that, ‘Koreans are raping me.’ ”
A security guard from the Whole Foods along with Gaw chased down the suspected attacker, described as a transient who appeared mentally ill, and held him for police.
“I ran toward the guy and started screaming at him,” he said.
Lee died a week after the beating.
Gaw says what happened sadly does not surprise him.
Since he moved to the area in 2004, he says the homeless population has skyrocketed.
And with an influx of young professionals and higher-end retail moving in, some are concerned about a volatile mix.
“We need a lot of help down here,” said Kuo Yang, a downtown LA resident. “There’s lot more families moving into the area and we just don’t have the sort of policing.”
Neighbors say Lee will be sorely missed.
“He was a neighborhood fixture who liked to stand in front of his apartment building and enjoy his neighborhood and the progress here and the historic core,” Gaw said.
The attack is not the first downtown.
Several months ago, outside the Disney Concert Hall, a child who was leaving a rehearsal was allegedly accosted by a transient also described as mentally ill. That person was taken to the hospital but was OK.