Police searched Friday for a transient who detectives want to question about knife attacks on three homeless people as they slept in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Santa Monica.
The victims survived the stabbings. Each time, the assailant reportedly left behind a knife and a typed and signed death warrant.
Police want to question a "person of interest" who goes by the name of David Ben Keyes, said Officer Karen Rayner, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman.
Keyes, who may be homeless, like his victims, recently came to Los Angeles from the Santa Barbara area, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a department spokesman, said at a news conference Thursday. The notes left behind by the attacker were signed with his name.
The latest victim was a 54-year-old homeless woman who was stabbed in the back while she slept Thursday near La Brea and De Longpre avenues, Smith said. Another "death warrant" was found, he said, and, according to The Times, a black kitchen knife was recovered at the scene.
In the first attack, reported July 3, a 56-year-old homeless man was found wounded near the intersection of Main and Third streets in downtown L.A. He had a large "hunting-type" knife protruding from his back, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A typed "death warrant" signed by the attacker was left at the scene, Smith said.
"In this case, and in only this case, a suspect was seen fleeing from the area," Smith said. "He's been described as a thin, slender, male African American."
A second homeless man who had been stabbed was found Tuesday, along with another signed note. That victim was stabbed while laying on a bus bench near the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Smith said.
He urged homeless individuals to take steps to protect themselves.
"If possible, get yourself into a shelter. Get somewhere where you can be protected," Smith said.
"We know that homeless people are vulnerable, they're some of the most vulnerable people in our society. But it's even worse when there's an individual out like this who's conducting these random acts of violence against homeless individuals."