Murder On Marathon

My inbox Wednesday held an email from someone otherwise unidentified save for the “silverlakenews” in the sender’s address. The message within included a link to an April 4 story on cbs2.com headlined “Man Shot And Killed After Opening Front Door.”

The sum of the short article is as follows:

(CBS) SILVER LAKE, Calif. A man was fatally shot when he opened the front door of his home in the Silver Lake area after hearing noises in his yard, police said Tuesday.

The man died at a hospital of a gunshot wound he suffered about 8:20 Monday night in the 3900 block of West Marathon Street, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.

Authorities withheld the man’s name, pending notification of his relatives.

According to police, the victim was sitting in his living room when he heard noises outside. When he opened his front door to investigate, he was shot once in the face.

Detectives were unsure of a motive for the crime, which apparently involved two male suspects. No arrests were reported.

Since a hospital transport was involved, I immediately clicked over to the indispensable LAFD News & Information blog to see if LAFD Spokesman Brian Humphrey, its equally indispensable primary contributor, had posted anything about it… but found nothing there. So I emailed him directly and received a speedy reply back saying he was out of the office and would look into it as soon as he returned. So in the meantime, I detoured from my plan of poachin’ more ‘quats and took a walk over there yesterday to see what I could see.

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The 3900 block of Marathon in East Hollywood is bordered by Virgil on the west and Hoover on the east. I entered it from the Hoover side and found it to be a quiet, tree-lined street with a mix of bungalow homes among a variety of apartment buildings. Four days removed from the crime I was expecting to find little evidence of the murder and its subsequent investigation — and I wasn’t disappointed.

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So I was left searching for clues — anything that might point me to the scene of the crime. Could it have happened here at this quaint little craftsman whose front porch and steps was marred by some sort of pink discoloration, maybe from spilled blood mixing with some sort of chalk outlining that didn’t get the clean up it deserved?

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Upon closer inspection I surmised it to be nothing more than aged spray paint and kept going west. A few more doors down at 3920 there was an apartment building with a U.S. flag attached proudly from a stucco’d balcony above a carport, but nothing that could be said to resemble a remnant of foul play.

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A few more steps and I thought I’d found something, a fragment of tell-tale caution tape flapping in the wind near the entrance to a building’s garage… but drawn across to it on the north side of the street I found that instead of demanding bystanders to stay back, it only warned of wet paint.

m05.jpgit was about then that I gave some thought as to why I was here. What is it that draws me on these goose chases searching through the aftermaths of violence and death? Certainly the proximity of the crimes to where I live is a strong factor as is my obvious curiosity. Sure, I’ll even admit to something of a morbid fascination.

But there’s something more to this pilgrimage. There’s a basic need to seek out and bear whatever witness I can. Though it might be nothing more than a strictly symbolic gesture, it is important for me to stand and recognize the location of the horrible waste of a life. I guess for me it’s a way of fighting back, of beating the fear, or at least mitigating it. It’s too easy to read an online news brief and automatically judge a place like the 3900 block of Marathon Street as a no man’s land to be avoided at all costs. But standing on this stretch of street under blue skies and clouds and sunshine with birds in the air and people coming and going and life happening… all of it helps to reduce the shadow of death and with it the desire to judge this place unfairly. Nothing can minimize the murder that has taken place, but being here does go a distance in understanding that the place is not to blame.

Almost directly back across on the south side of the street some movement catches my eye along a walkway above a vast bed of ivy and I find a man in an official looking orange vest taking measurements. LA’s version of a CSI investigator. maybe? Perhaps following up with additional data on bullet trajectories? No, the nearby equipment and tripod pointed to him simply being a surveyor. But then again, when I passed the heavily tagged house-number board at the entrance of the seven-unit complex he is working in it seemed I could very well be getting warmer.

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Or not. I keep moving west looking around. But all I find is a group of four men standing between me and Virgil within the shadows of some under-trimmed curbside trees. They’re holding paper-bagged cans of beer and they don’t see me until the dog and I are almost upon them. Then they do double takes and make way while making half-baked attempts to hide their beverages. As I pass they all smile and one of them comments about Shadow.

“That’s a pretty dog. Is it male or female?” he asks. I say thank you and tell him Shadow’s female.

“Ohhhh, nice!”

I get beyond them then stop and turn. “Say, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure!” he says and he walks a bit unsteadily up to me, ending up a little too close. HIs eyes have that numb and watered-down look of trying to see the world through a six-pack of beer.

“By any chance did you hear about a shooting around here earlier this week?” I answer by making the international hand symbol for a gun, and he answers quickly and expansively and solemnly in the affirmative. His breath confirms my assessment of his wholly inebriated condition.

“On Monday?” Again he lets out a slow and low “Yesssss!” and he weebles a bit on his feet.

“Do you know where it happened?” This throws him and he gives me an abrupt “Hunh?”

“Did it happen here?” I point to the run-down apartments nearest to us. He pauses for a second, but again I get nothing more than “Hunh?”

“The shooting…” I make my hand into a gun again, this time pulling the trigger and making a soft boom sound. “Do you know where the shooting took place on this street?” He swings his head to look at my hand, rolls it back to look at me, weebles a little more before letting go with an “Ohhhhh… I dunno.”

“You don’t know?”

“I dunno.”

“OK then!” I say with a laugh and thank him as I turn and continue toward Virgil. From behind me he calls out “That’s a nice dog!” I wave without looking back. At the corner of Virgil and Marathon I find this:

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A couple blocks up the irony of the street’s name that I cross isn’t lost on me:

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In my inbox this morning was the information that Brian Humphrey was able to provide. Here’s a digest of it:

• The incident was reported to the Los Angeles Fire Department via multiple 911 calls beginning at 8:07 p.m. April 4.

• Witnesses reported hearing shots and discovering one wounded male inside the apartment building at 3951 Marathon Street.

• The victim was a 26 year-old male who despite the best efforts of the team of LAFD paramedics, went into cardiac arrest during transport to County-USC Medical Center and was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at the hospital.

8 Replies to “Murder On Marathon”

  1. Will:

    I’m glad I was able to be of assistance. I appreciate your patience in awaiting a reply.

    For those lurking, please know that we generally don’t post individual homicides on the Fire Department blog, as they are largely within the realm of our friends at LAPD.

    Because any detailed public statement we might offer could potentially hinder an investigation or tip the scales of justice, we’d prefer to leave it to law enforcement officials to share what they can when they can.

    That much said, please keep an eye on the news for a deeply troubling incident that occured this morning – and if you live in Los Angeles, please consider joining the Police Department’s nascent E-Policing program.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Firefighter/Specialist
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

    LAFD News Blog: http://www.lafd.org/blog.htm

  2. I would like to think that this was a hit.

    I really dont like to believe that random bullets hit their targets so accurately at this.

    26, male. Heard noises outside, shot when opening the door.

    Perfect crime.

    He must have done someone wrong.

  3. Thanks Carolyn, I do try to be.

    And Cashew… I can’t help but consider it sad that you’d assume the victim was somehow deserving his death. I can understand it though. If it were premeditated it would make more sense than as it stands as a senseless act of violence.

    I cross-posted this story to my own blog and found the following comment yesterday evening from someone identifying themselves as a friend of the dead man, which puts a backstory that — if indeed true — pretty much rules out the crime as being anything but random:

    “The man killed on Marathon Street was my friend. He was born in Florida. His name was Jason. He had a daughter. He worked as a bicycle messenger downtown. He worked very hard and recently moved from a more dangerous location to the apartment where he was killed. He enjoyed snowboarding, bike races, and being around his friends. He was a young guy with a future. He had a lot of friends of all races ( which I feel is rare here in L.A.) and was a trusting, and friendly person. Seemed like he was happy. I think when he was a kid he dreamed of moving to L.A. and living the California dream. I believe he accomplished that and was on his way to living a very fulfilling life. He loved his daughter. I respected this man for his strength and for being such a good natured guy in every way. A very hard worker. He always listened and reassured me whenever I told him about my problems or whatever was going on in my life. He helped me out a lot. I always thought he would just be there. I can’t even believe he is gone. He was 37 years old and was very healthy and young acting and appearing. His death is a tragedy and his murderer needs to be captured and punished.”

  4. Is that blog comment in regards to the same murder on Marathon?

    According to the Brian Humphries, “the victim victim was a 26 year-old male.”

    I am always saddened to hear violent and untimely deaths in my city, especially when they are random.

    The recent rash of domestic murders of innocent children in our Korean community this month have been devastating!

    But I’ve read thousands of crime accounts in the Times since I was a boy, and more often than not they are premeditated in these cases.

    And yes, be safe out there!

  5. Hi Cashew,

    I wondered about that big discrepancy in the victim’s age as well. There’s a Rampart-area police press release on the LAPD website aboput the murder that lists the victim’s age as 37.

    Here’s the address:
    http://www.lapdonline.org/rampart_community_police_station/news_view/24768

    Additionally it describes the suspects as two male blacks 5”6″ to 5’8″ in height.

    And in a follow-up comment the person who wrote about knowing the deceased said that the victim was a military veteran.

  6. There was a memorial service for Jason Today. Over 100 people came to grieve and pay their respects. That confirmed everything I thought about the man. How many people move to L.A. and make that big of an impact on peoples lives? He really had a way of connecting with people. He had the ability to not only make friends..but keep them. It was amazing to see all the people at his service. He was a great man. And a great friend.

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