Friend Of Hollywood Murder Suspects Says: 'That Could Have Been Me Getting Stabbed'
Two days after a woman was murdered on Hollywood Boulevard, things are pretty much back to normal. The shoppers are out, the costumed characters pose for photos for tourists and there's even another homeless guy holding a similar "Fuck You" sign.
A man who identified himself only as "Lucas," agreed to talk to LAist and to pose for a photo. He didn't demand any money for it, unlike his former friends, who stabbed a woman to death after she refused to pay them after taking their picture with her cell phone.
Lucas says he's known two of the suspects for about four or five months and the "red-haired guy" for a few years. "I could see that they were getting more aggressive as time went on. Gradually, they were getting drunker and drunker," he said of his companions.
City News Service identified the suspects as Dustin James Kinnear, who has been charged with murder; Jason Joel Wolstone who was charged with assault and two counts of accessory after the fact; and Brian Joseph Widdows, who was also charged as an accessory.
Lucas had been hanging out with them the day of the murder. "I was here a few hours before that. One of them came over and hit me for no good reason." He said he normally considered them his friends. "When he's sober, he's really nice," he said of the one who tried to pick a fight with him that day." Lucas said that "luckily," he wasn't with them Tuesday night. "That could have been me getting stabbed, if I was."
He told LAist he hadn't encountered any trouble while holding up a nearly identical sign as the murder suspects and that he hadn't even considered dropping the "F You" sign approach.
Lucas explained the philosophy behind the offensive sign is "just to get people's attention and make them laugh." He said that "not many" people do end up taking offense at it.
A kiosk worker, who asked that we not use her name, told LAist that the stabbing happened right by the map outside the metro station, in front of the American Eagle Outfitters store. "There was a pool of blood there," she said, but it's since been cleaned up. There was no memorial marking the spot and no police outline. Tourists and passersby seemed oblivious that they might be standing in the middle of a crime scene. One of the employees at the American Eagle store hadn't even heard of the crime: A security guard is always just inside the door, but the one working today was not the one working the night of the murder.
Janira, who also declined to give her last name, works for the Hollywood Wax Museum kiosk and said she'd never had any problems with "the guy with the long hair and cap" who held up the "Fuck You" signs, probably referring to Lucas. She didn't recognize the men from the photo taken by the victim's friend.
She's worked on Hollywood for about three years, but said she's only been seeing the "Fuck You" guys for the past six months and had never heard of any incidents involving them. "It's a shame because it puts a bad name on Hollywood," she said.
Other regulars on the boulevard have had less positive experiences with those particular panhandlers, as many told LAist.
John C., 22, who's worked on Hollywood Boulevard since August, said, after looking at LAist's photo of the two suspects, "We've seen them before on the boulevard, yeah." When asked if he'd gotten a dangerous vibe from them, he answered, "Oh, absolutely." He shook his head over a women getting killed for snapping a picture of someone, saying he wouldn't hesitate to take a picture himself. "It's absurd, no one one expects to get stabbed under any circumstances."
Another kiosk worker wanted to point out that "there's more than one person with the 'Fuck You' sign. Some people find it hilarious and end up tipping them and others find it insulting. I guess it just depends on how you wish to take it."
She also wanted to distinguish between the guys holding the signs and the costumed characters who make a living working the boulevard. "I don't want to speak bad of any of our characters here. They're great with people. People love them." She said the problem is the homeless people who are often high or, she said, mentally ill.
"They shouldn't be on the strip and if they are intoxicated, they should be removed from the sidewalk." She's only been working there for a month and felt relatively safe. "I don't feel unsafe, because there's plenty of security." She explained that she didn't feel the need for more security or police presence, but "more reinforcement of what is allowed here and what isn't."
She'd never seen any hint of violence from the sign guys before, saying that usually, "They just stay quiet and hold up their sign," and that the victim "just caught them at the wrong time."
She said she was "very, very surprised" to hear about the stabbing. "Going to work the next day," she said, "I did have some concerns, but you have to be aware when you work where there's a lot of tourists, you have to prepared for anything and everything. If you want to work here, you have to be with that mindset, that even though there's security, you have to be aware for yourself."
Mother Of Woman Stabbed To Death In Hollywood Says Daughter's Death Was A Hate Crime
Victim's Friend Describes Horrific Scene In Stabbing Attack In Heart Of Hollywood
Woman Stabbed To Death At Hollywood And Highland After Refusing To Pay Men She Photographed [UPDATED]