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Suspect in custody after 3 assaulted on Santa Monica beach, police say

A suspect is in custody following multiple assaults Monday on the beach just north of the Santa Monica Pier, according to the Santa Monica Police Department.

Police said the assaults on the three unrelated victims happened around 9:45 a.m. in the area near the 1300 block of Ocean Front Walk, when an unidentified man allegedly tried to rob one woman and drown another. 

An elderly woman was medically treated at the scene and a 17-year-old was treated at a hospital for severe injuries that were not considered life-threatening, according to police. 

Jenna Wilker, a homeless woman who lives in the area, witnessed the entire incident, jumping into the fray herself in an attempt to save the victim.

"I heard her screaming, just screams like bloody," Wilker recalled. "It was like bloody murder."

She was hanging out at her usual spot on the beach, near Lifeguard Tower 13, when she heard the shouting. 

"It was pretty violent, I ran over and got the dude to let go of the woman," she said. "I pushed him off of her and he clocked me pretty good in the face."

Despite her successful attempt to pull the suspect away from the girl, he attempted to go after her a second time. 

"We ended up getting in another tussle after he want after her a second time," Wilker said. "I saw her struggle, I saw him choking her. He had his arm around her neck up. Cops tell me if I hadn't gotten there when I got there, she probably would've been dead."

Wilker says on top of a number of scratches she got from the scuffle, the man tried to bite off her ear, which left a noticeable wound behind.

Before targeting the teen, police say that the suspect dragged the other victim, an elderly woman, into the water where he tried to drown her. Eventually he was stopped by family members and lifeguards in the area. 

"He was trying to grab me, and then he grabbed her by the hair and put her all the way in the water," said a family member of the woman. 

Wliker, still shaken by the incident, says that she's just glad she was in the right place at the right time to save the girl. 

"I am torn up a little bit. She's young, and I know what it's like to be a young girl in a scary world," she said. "There were people on the beach, men on the beach, and I was the only singular person to run over and help this young lady."

She plans to meet with the girl soon and has started a fundraiser, hopeful that she can find some housing herself. It can be found by searching for the keywords "Let's House Our Hero, Jenna Wilker."

The full video showing the aftermath of Monday's chaos can be seen here.

The suspect has been identified as Jawann Dwayne Garnett, 32 of Los Angeles. Police described him as homeless.

Police say that prior to Monday's incident, they had only come in contact with him once before, when he was booked and released for a minor violation.

After he was taken into custody, Garnett was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and other felonies. Police say that he is a registered sex offender. 

No weapons were used in the assaults.

Anyone who may have further information is urged to contact SMPD at (310) 458-8427.

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