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Homeless feeling safer on Skid Row after stabbing suspect arrested

By Kylie Reynolds
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at 09:22AM
via googlemaps

The Midnight Mission has had fewer people staying overnight since Saturday, which officials say indicates that the Skid Row homeless community again feels safe on the streets after the recent arrest of a man suspected of the L.A. homeless stabbings.

The Skid Row homeless community is resting a bit easier after this weekend's arrest of a man in connection to the recent homeless stabbings in Los Angeles, officials connected to Skid Row told Blogdowntown.

Courtney Anthony Robinson, who authorities suspect stabbed three people throughout the Los Angeles area this month, turned himself into the Los Angeles Police Department on Friday, said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith. The three people were not killed.

After the first stabbing on July 3, police went around the Skid Row area handing out fliers - both to warn the homeless community about the stabbing and to try to find the man, Smith said. Police were unsuccessful in locating the man earlier in the month, but strengthened efforts after two more homeless people were stabbed last week, he said.

Officers were sent to those Los Angeles areas where the homeless are known to congregate to let people know to be careful on the streets, to sleep in numbers, and to head to shelters and missions if possible, Smith said.

Shelters around Skid Row, including the Los Angeles Mission and Midnight Mission, also made efforts to alert the downtown L.A. homeless population and to accommodate all who wanted a place to stay.

Midnight Mission implemented its winter policy in response to the stabbings, which opened up areas that are not normally accessible during summer to provide more space for the additional people staying at the shelter, said mission spokeswoman Mai Lee. She said about 20 to 30 people slept at the shelter after the news broke about the stabbings.

Based on the dwindling number of people staying overnight at the mission since Saturday, however, Lee said she suspects the homeless community feels more comfortable on the streets again.

"I bet everybody is breathing a sigh of relief knowing that this madman is in custody," Smith said.

Robinson, who the LA Times reports has been charged with three counts of attempted murder for the stabbings, was also likely homeless, Smith said. He said the homeless most often attack others within the homeless community, often for reasons related to mental illness, narcotics or alcohol.

"The biggest danger homeless people have is other homeless people," Smith said.

But Herb Smith, president of Los Angeles Mission, has a different take. Gangs and drug dealers - not the fellow homeless - are the biggest threat to the homeless population, he argues. These gangs and drug dealers prove a regular issue to the homeless community, despite it not being widely publicized, he said.

"Generally the homeless don't prey on each other unless they are provoked by another source, like gangs," Herb Smith said.

While safety concerns over the stabbings have started to lessen, Lee said Midnight Mission and other shelters along Skid Row will still house every person who comes in for fear of sleeping on the streets.

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