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A Homeless Couple In Mission Hills Was Attacked With Acid

Devonwood Park hosts kids playing and dogs being walked. But there's no indication of a resident homeless population. (Photo by Caleigh Wells/LAist)
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A man and a woman were asleep early Sunday morning in Devonwood Park when, as they told police, they were sprayed with a liquid that appeared to be acid, burning their skin.

They were hospitalized with burns to their arms and face. As of Friday, the man had been released, and the woman was still being treated for her injuries.

The couple didn't hear or see who threw the acid.

Lt. Joseph Kalyn of the LAPD Mission Station said the couple also claimed it's not the first time it's happened.

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"Over a three week period, someone or some people have sprayed them or doused them with other chemicals," he said. "I don't believe they would've reported this incident except for the severity of the injuries that required medical treatment."

The couple said the first time it was gasoline, and the second time it was bleach.

Kalyn called the attack unique for Mission Hills. But the greater L.A. area has recently seen several attacks on people who appeared to be homeless, including three men who were beaten with a bat downtown, and the man who died after being assaulted in Santa Monica.

Devonwood Park seems an unlikely place for such a crime. It's used by families and dog-walkers, surrounded by single family homes with minivans parked outside. There's little evidence of homeless people living at the park.

Which is why local residents were surprised to hear about an attack like this happening in Mission Hills.

Laurie Ortega, a local who said she's been coming to Devonwood Park since she was 12, often brings her two kids to play on the jungle gym.

"This is a first for me, to hear someone was attacked here," she said. "I feel it's safe."

She said during the day it's rare to see a homeless person in the park at all. And at night, police make sure they leave.

"You see LAPD constantly driving in and out of the park when it's dark at night, flashing lights. If they do see someone, you see them being escorted out."

Gilbert Lopez was in the park Friday on a lunch break from work. He shared the same shock as Ortega.

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"It's surprising to hear that...being done in public, in a place where there's kids around," he said. "It's sad to see one human being doing something to another human being."

Kalyn said LAPD has no leads yet, and it's asking anyone with useful information that could lead to finding suspects to contact the Mission community police station.

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