VENTURA (CBSLA) — Residents unleashed their fury tonight at a city council meeting in Ventura.
As CBSLA's Tom Wait reports, folks packed the meeting to speak out in the wake of the murder of Anthony Mele, the young father who was stabbed in the neck as he was finishing dinner last week at a Ventura restaurant along the Promenade. His 5-year-old daughter was sitting in his lap. It appears to be a random attack.
"As I understand it you folks have been warned for years and you've done nothing," said one resident to applause.
"This family will not recover from this. They will have to move forward," said another resident.
Some at the meeting claimed Mele's murder was a tragedy waiting to happen as Ventura's homeless population has grown.
"I feel no longer safe in my beloved town of Ventura and I've lived here since I was 13," said a visibly shaken speaker.
Residents marched from the scene of Mele's murder to Ventura City Hall hoping to draw more attention to the cause. Some folks fear the anger over what happened is vilifying all homeless because of the actions of one.
"Any time an innocent person is killed is horrible. To blame it on an entire community that has no place to live is not acceptable," said a woman who spoke at the meeting.
We also learned tonight the killer, Jamal Jackson, has a lengthy criminal record, including charges of domestic violence. On the day of the murder police were called because Jackson was accused of harassing folks on the Promenade. A dispatcher monitored the security video showing Jackson sitting on the wall and determined he was not a threat.
Tonight Ventura police said they should have sent officers but none were available.
"We had units that were in the city but were on call and not available to respond initially," said Ventura Police Commander Tom Higgins.
Jackson was arrested the night of the stabbing. He remains in police custody tonight.
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