A North Hollywood man who was killed on a Red Line train beneath Hollywood — the first killing on a modern Los Angeles subway — had been involved in a verbal dispute with the suspect before the fatal stabbing, a sheriff's sergeant said today.
The verbal altercation escalated and ended in the death of Jesse Garay, 59, said Sgt. Rich Pena of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau.
"The victim, who was in possession of a plastic chain, began to swing the chain at the suspect,'' Pena said. "The suspect hit the victim in the head with a skateboard, then stabbed the victim in the chest, killing him."
Sheriff's deputies said Garay collapsed inside the train compartment and died at the scene.
Surveillance video may show events leading up to the stabbing, which occurred in front of a carload of Metro Rail riders as the subway car sped west under Hollywood Boulevard at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Witnesses, including a Los Angeles Times music reporter, said the skateboarder was attacked by a man who was wielding some type of bicycle chain.
Pena said that based on their investigation, detectives have decided not to release any crime scene videos or surveillance tapes at this point.
The stabbing occurred between the Western and the Vine stations and was the first on the Red Line since it opened in 1993, deputies said.
Times music reporter Todd Martens said he saw the attack.
"The man with a chain started swinging wildly ... he was flailing his chain but it wasn't really hitting the guy," Martens told The Times. "He just seemed crazy.''
A man with two skateboards and a bag pulled out a small knife and stabbed the chain-wielding man in his chest.
The stabber stepped back and said, "Oh, no, why did you make me do
that?'" Martens said.
The wounded man collapsed and began shaking, The Times reported. The train operator momentarily stopped the train, and the stabber slumped to the floor of the train and began asking for help.
"You saw him attack me, right? Please say you did," he asked passengers, according to Martens. In his bag, the stabber, who appeared to be in his 20s, had what looked like a new blue shirt, and two other passengers urged him to change out of his bloodied clothes, according to Martens.
The assailant, described as being of Asian descent with acne scars on his face, put on a new shirt and stuffed the bloody one into his bag, bolting out of the door at the Hollywood/Vine Station.
"There are cameras on the trains," sheriff's Sgt. Harry Drucker said.
"That footage feeds into a hard drive and our homicide detectives will be requesting a download of that video from the Metro people."
Although the incident occurred within Los Angeles city limits, sheriff's deputies patrol Metro Rail facilities and are investigating the case.
They asked anyone any information about the killing to call detectives at (323) 890-5500.
— City News Service