LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Four men were shot early Wednesday morning in a homeless encampment in Playa del Rey, and investigators are still searching for the suspected shooter or shooters.
The incident was reported at 5:43 a.m. in the area of Culver and Jefferson boulevards. At least one suspect approached the victims and opened fire, Los Angeles police said.
Police said that all four of the individuals wounded, two of them critically, are unhoused people living or were visiting the makeshift RV park that has grown in the area.
Playa Del Rey residents who live nearby said they are anxious and getting angry.
"It's getting worse. What does it take for the city government to help us?" said Lucy Han, a Play Del Rey resident.
Neighbors said they've been begging for help with the growing line of RV's parked besides the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.
On Wednesday night, CBSLA counted 38 campers, but local say there have been many more right next to the protected land, adding that they regularly witness drug use and pollution.
Earlier this year, fire officials said an unhoused person started a five-acre fire in this area.
"Were afraid of even walking down the pathway there, you know. We actually heard there was a meth lab right there and so we're afraid to go near there and we don't want to be in danger," Han said.
Making matters worse is where any potential sewage from the campers might be going.
"And so during COVID, now you have no sewage hookups. Where's the sewage going? Now you have a health hazard on top of a pandemic," said Theresa Torrance, another nearby resident.
Authorities said they don't believe the shooting is related to the fact that the victims are unhoused, but locals find that hard to believe.
Some people who live nearby said they'd like a cleanup of the encampment in the same way the Venice Boardwalk encampments were cleared out and said they don't want to be considered NIMBY's.
"I think that NIMBY is a really interesting term, not in my backyard," resident Sara Kay said. "I don't know anybody who wants in their backyard people being shot in the early morning, fires being randomly set, people passed out with needles strewn about. Who wants that in their backyard? And if compassion means letting people rot in squalor, their mental illness or addiction, then we have gotten rid of the meaning of compassion. I don't even know what it means anymore."
CBSLA was unable to reach Councilman Mike Bonin to ask about why the RV's are allowed to stay near the protected wetlands or about the possibility of getting the encampment cleared.
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