Calling it a "bit of good news in what was otherwise a pretty terrible news week," Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith announced that a suspect believed responsible for the stabbings of homeless people in Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Santa Monica was taken into custody by officers on Friday night.
Courtney A. Robinson, 38, was arrested by LAPD officers after reportedly calling 911 and claiming responsibility for the crimes, in which three homeless people were stabbed in the back while sleeping. In each incident, a handmade death warrant was affixed to the victims' bodies with the knife.
Police believe a hunting knife was used in at least one of the stabbings. All three victims survived the attacks, while one remains hospitalized, Smith said.
Police believe Robinson may also be responsible for two stabbings in the city of Santa Barbara.
"Last night around 8:40 p.m we received a 911 from someone who identified himself as the person who police were looking for in the stabbings of the homeless people," Smith said.
LAPD officers from the Hollywood Patrol Unit located Robinson at the Hong Kong Express Restaurant and took him into custody without incident. He was booked on Saturday evening at the Metro Detention Center and is being held on $500,000 bail, according to Smith.
Officers were first able to circulate a photo of Robinson after tracking him down on social media websites through the alias of 'David Ben Keyes' that he used on the death warrants, according to Smith. Police then circulated Robinson's booking photo from a previous arrest, along with photos from the Keyes Facebook page, which lead to a slew of tips.
Smith credited anonymous tips sent to the LAPD through the Crime Stoppers hotline for helping police target their search for Robinson to the Hollywood area.
"We started receiving tips that he was living in the Hollywood area, so we narrowed our focused to Hollywood," Smith said.
The first stabbing occurred on July 3, at around 1 a.m near 3rd and Main Street in Downtown's skid row area. A 50-year-old male was found stabbed in the back as he lay on the sidewalk.
The second stabbing occurred on July 17 at around 5:30 a.m. near 6th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica. The male victim, 59, was lying on a bus bench with a stab wound in his back.
The most recent assault occurred at around 2:20 a.m. on July 19 near La Brea Avenue and De Longpre Avenue in Hollywood. The female victim was also found stabbed in the back and lying on the sidewalk.
Smith said police believe Robinson targeted each of the victims for specific reasons, but had no relation to them. He declined to elaborate on those reasons when asked by police.
"In 24 years of doing this, I've never seen anything like this, where someone stabs a person and leaves a death warrant affixed to a person's body. It's just a crazy thing," Smith said.
Smith said that Robinson, who is believed to be homeless, had clearly gone through some hard times in recent years. Photos from the Keyes Facebook page showed what appeared to be a clean-cut, healthy individual.
"Our detectives are looking into what happened to him between the time when the photos of him you see on his Facebook site were taken, where he looks like he has his act together, to now where he's living on the streets, carrying a backpack and stabbing random homeless people on street and leaving a death warrant," Smith said. "We really don't know."