Venice Hotel Owner Arrested In Fatal Shooting Of Homeless Man, Residents Say
Police have arrested a man in connection to the fatal shooting of a homeless man in Venice Beach over the weekend, and residents are saying the suspect is the owner of a Venice hotel.
Although authorities have not identified the man they took into custody on suspicion of murder at 8:10 a.m. on Sunday, local residents told CBS Los Angeles the suspect is 54-year-old Sris Sinnathamby, the Cadillac Hotel owner from Sri Lanka. A search on the L.A. County Sheriff's Department's Inmate Information Center's website shows Sinnathamby's name on record, saying that he was arrested on Sunday and that he is being held in lieu of $5 million bail.
LAPD officer Drake Madison tells LAist that they haven't released the name of the suspect because it's an ongoing investigation, and they'll be presenting the case to the L.A. County District Attorney's office tomorrow. Authorities have not said if the suspect in custody was the person who pulled the trigger, or what his involvement is in the murder, and that giving that information would "taint the investigation."
Police responded to reports of the shooting by the Venice Boardwalk on the 300 block of Ocean Front Walk, near Rose Avenue, just after 2 a.m. on Sunday. When they arrived, they discovered that two people had been shot outside of the Cadillac Hotel. Jascent-Jamal Lee Warren, a 26-year-old homeless man, died at the scene, and another victim, a black man in his 40s, survived but suffered from a gunshot wound to his leg, KTLA reports. He was rushed to a hospital, and is said to have non-life-threatening injuries.
LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery told KTLA that the shooting stemmed from a fight between the locals that "escalated into a violent encounter with someone brandishing a handgun and committing this deadly crime."
Authorities have not released information about what caused the fight, though witnesses told police that the shooting stemmed from people telling homeless people to not sleep in front of the Cadillac Hotel, and resulted in a man shooting at the transients outside.
One witness, Ras Whitelion, told CBS Los Angeles that the owner of Cadillac Hotel was with the gunman, and instructed him to shoot at the homeless people. "He pulled out the gun and the guy that owns the Cadillac Hotel told him ‘Kill that n—-r,'' Whitelion said.
Another witness, who did not wanted to be identified, told NBC Los Angeles that he heard the shooter yell out, "This is our streets. Get out of here."
A friend of Warren's, Levi Gifaglione, told NBC Los Angeles that Warren, who helped her while living on the streets, was "just one of those guys who would do anything for you." She believes that Warren was trying to stop the fight outside of the hotel. Gifaglione said that Warren was telling the owner, "If you care about us, tell him to put down the gun," right before gunshots were fired.
Authorities told CBS Los Angeles that the owner of Cadillac Hotel was also injured. A witness said that homeless men roughed up the owner after the shooting, and as a result, he suffered from head injuries.
The shooter fled from the scene in a black SUV, going south on Speedway. Although there isn't a detailed description of the shooter, witnesses described him as a Hispanic man.
Friends described Warren to CBS Los Angeles as a kind and peaceful homeless man, who was a broke musician who championed to help other homeless people. His nickname was "Shakespeare" because he was a writer. "I was petrified because that was basically fellow homeless activist," Mariah Magomedova, who lived on the streets with Warren, told CBS Los Angeles. "He was a humanitarian."
Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to contact LAPD's West Bureau Homicide office at (213) 382-9470.