VENICE (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles Police Department’s West Bureau Homicide announced the arrest Saturday of 38-year-old Michael McClain, a Venice area resident, in connection to the killing of 49-year-0ld Michael Hall.
“What happened yesterday was a heinous crime and a horrible tragedy,” Councilman Bonin said. “I’m glad to hear that an arrest was made.”READ MORE: USC Places Sigma Nu Fraternity On Interim Suspension After Reports Of 'Possible Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assaults'
Police were called to the encampment, near Ocean Front Walk and Dudley Avenue, at about 3:20 p.m. Friday. When officers arrived at the scene, they found a man in his late 40s suffering from blunt force trauma to the head inside of a tent. The Los Angeles Fire Department said the man died at the scene.
At around 5:53 p.m., Pacific officers located McClain at 3rd Avenue and Sunset Avenue at another homeless encampment. The 38-year-old was detained and questioned by homicide investigators and later booked for murder.
The victim had an ongoing dispute with the suspect and another homeless person, according to investigators.
“I’m not shocked anymore. I’m upset about it and scared,” Savannah Kaslov, a vendor in Venice, said.
Family members identified Hall. They said he had just moved into the encampment a few weeks ago and believed his death was the result of a love triangle.
In the ongoing political battle about what to do with area homeless encampments and those living in them, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters Saturday that the boardwalk needs to be treated as a regulated space by moving the encampments to locations with security.READ MORE: Long Beach Man Killed In Fatal Collision
“We establish safe campgrounds, safe parking areas for the people who can’t get into shelters,” Villanueva said.
The sheriff has openly criticized local leaders, including Bonin who represents Venice and the Westside.
Bonin said that the sheriff has teamed up with people who have long pushed back on his efforts with an “anywhere, but here” attitude.
“Every part of the city needs to be part of the solution,” Bonin said. “We cannot be exempt at just low income neighborhoods. We all need to be a part of the solution to what is the biggest problem of our time.”
There is evidence, though, that Villanueva’s stance on homelessness is gaining support from at least some business owners in Venice.
“Within two weeks since the sheriff left, we’ve had three tents move,” Luis Perez, general manager of the Venice Beach Bar, said. “I’m hoping that they went to better locations.”
Bonin, however, argues that out of sight, out of mind doesn’t work, and said that in the next six weeks 200 people will be moved into motels, apartments and shared housing with federal, state and local funds that weren’t available before the pandemic.
Both Villanueva and Bonin do agree that arresting people who are unhoused and living on the boardwalk is not the solution.
Police are continuing to investigate this incident and urge anyone with information to contact West Bureau Homicide investigators at 213-382-9470. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS or online at www.crimestoppers.org.MORE NEWS: Santa Fe County Sheriff's Confirm Alec Baldwin Fired Prop-Gun That Killed 1 Person, Wounded Another