Some Highland Park residents are on edge after an axe-wielding man, who lives in a nearby homeless encampment, has been seen roaming the streets and destroying the sense of safety in their neighborhood.
Video shows the man attempting to cut down a tree in the front yard of one of the homes with his axe. According to the homeowner, the man also has a drum set that he sometimes uses to make noise at all hours of the day and night.
“As a woman, I’m worried about walking through my neighborhood because I don’t know what kind of mood he’ll be in and I know that he’s armed,” the homeowner, identified only as Tracy, told KTLA.
A new mom, Tracy says she’s constantly worried about the safety of her family and has called the city’s 311 hotline dozens of times but has not received any help.
Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez, who represents the neighborhood, responded to KTLA’s request for comment with a statement that read in part:
“We want to ensure that everyone in CD1 – housed and unhoused – feel safe and secure in their neighborhoods and the frustrating reality is that there is a huge gap in housing, services and resources available to meet the current need. …Our office will be revisiting this particular site to assess the situation and connect with the constituents.”
Neighbors said the encampment formed about a year ago and has been cleaned up multiple times since.
“They’ve done it like two times already. They cleaned it up and then right after that, it ends up like this,” a neighbor identified only as Linda told KTLA.
Each time, the man has returned and continues making neighbors in the area fear for their safety. Another homeowner, a single mom, said she doesn’t allow her son to play outside for fear that the man has a stash of weapons.
“(He) walks up and down the street screaming profanity and he does have multiple weapons, like hammers, machetes, things like that. So, it is a safety issue,” the homeowner, who did not want to be identified told KTLA.
The single mother said that officers with the Los Angeles Police Department have spoken to the man, but that nothing more has been done. She said she’s hopeful that Mayor Karen Bass’ initiative to address homelessness will take into account these types of encampments.
“Our mayor, our City Council, people need to get involved and see that it is bringing our values down as homeowners. It’s more power in numbers. So, living here, I would like to see a change,” she added.
Officials with LAPD told KTLA that carrying a machete or an axe is not a crime, but that threatening someone with it is, and anyone who feels concerned for their safety in such a situation should call 911.