Murder on Skid Row

June 24, 2008

Los Angeles. Los Angeles detectives are asking the public’s help in providing any information about an argument that led to the death of 60-year-old Samuel Beckner. The Skid Row resident died at the USC Los Angeles County Medical Center June 19, 2008, after three days of unconsciousness.

According to witnesses, Beckner argued with a younger Black man outside a homeless shelter in the 500 block of San Julian Street. That unidentified man punched Beckner in the face. When Beckner fell, his head struck the pavement causing a massive concussion.

“Mr. Beckner’s family was at his bedside when life support ended,” said Lieutenant Paul Vernon, head of the Central Detective Division. “Understandably, they are very upset and they want the person who assaulted their father arrested.”

The argument and assault occurred in full view of dozens of people outside the homeless shelter around 11 AM on June 16. The suspect’s actions and Beckner’s death make the crime a homicide. Part of the argument was caught on surveillance tape, but the suspect’s face was out of the frame.

“We clear a lot of crimes downtown thanks to local residents stepping up with information,” Vernon said. “We hope someone will come forward in this case. We just need a small lead to point us to a suspect.”

Beckner’s death is the fourth homicide to occur within Skid Row since the Safer Cities Initiative began, September 2006. The last Skid Row murder occurred September 4, 2007, when a passerby found Michael Bell, 47, stabbed on a sidewalk. Detectives eventually arrested a local woman for the crime. Of the prior three murders, two were stabbings and one was related to child neglect. All three occurred between August and September 2007.

Since the Safer Cities Initiative began violent crime in Skid Row is down over 40 percent.

Anyone with information is asked to call Central Area Detectives at 213-972-1203 during normal business hours. After hours and on weekends, phone the 24-hour toll-free Detective Information Desk at 1-877-ASK-LAPD (529-3855).