By Jeff Hall
A woman wielding a knife got within feet of LA mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino at a Venice Beach rally this morning.
The incident occurred just moments after Buscaino finished delivering his remarks calling for “common sense, not nonsense” when it comes to dealing with homeless encampments in Los Angeles.
Different eyewitnesses gave differing accounts of the incident.
Nico Ruderman, standing close to Buscaino, was watching the woman – known locally as “Angel” – because she “looked a little off.”
Angel started moving toward Buscaino and Ruderman noticed she was wielding a 6-to 8-inch knife.
Ruderman said Angel called out “I’m going to start killing people” and Ruderman immediately pushed Buscaino out of harm’s way.
Another witness said it appeared the knife had fallen out of the woman’s overalls, onto the ground, where a member of the audience stepped on the knife so as to keep it away from the woman.
Venice resident Nico Ruderman says he locked eyes with the woman who said “I’m going to start killing people.” He took off running with @JoeBuscaino.— Kate Cagle (@KateCagle) June 7, 2021
Ruderman came to listen to the speech and is behind the campaign to recall @mikebonin. pic.twitter.com/mSRpRql23y
Members of the LAPD immediately arrested and handcuffed Angel while another group of LAPD police officers hustled Joe Buscaino out of the immediate vicinity. The woman was detained the woman, but later released from police custody. It is unclear if charges will be pressed against the subject. The LAPD did not respond to a request for more information about the woman.
The entire incident – reminiscent of when President Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded by John Hinckley, Jr. in 1991 – was over in a matter of seconds.
Everyone in the crowd immediately starting asking each other what had just happened. A cameraman from ABC 7 said he captured the whole thing on film.
Heidi Roberts, who runs Haaven.org, which places Venice Beach homeless individuals into housing, said she recognized the woman. Roberts said she tried to help the woman, Angel, get into housing just two weeks ago. Roberts said Angel is in her mid-twenties.
Prior to the incident, Buscaino said it’s time for a “fresh start.” He said LA needed to disallow encampments on public property, while remaining respectful to the unhoused.
Just behind him as he spoke was Santa Monica – with no homeless encampments on the boardwalk or the beach – and in front of him – in Venice – were several encampments. Venice is part of Los Angeles.
In Santa Monica overnight camping on public property is illegal (and enforced); in Los Angeles, encampments on sidewalks and the boardwalk are tolerated.
LA needs to do more to break the cycle of poverty, build housing faster and provide job training, said Buscaino. Affordable housing options of all varieties need to be approved, according to Buscaino.
Every neighborhood needs the equivalent of a senior lead officer – a highly successful LAPD program – who specializes in dealing in outreach efforts to homeless individuals, Buscaino argued.
Buscaino called for an end to LAHSA (Los Angeles Housing Services Authority), which he said represents an ineffective use of $300 million a year. The City of Los Angeles contracts out much of its homeless program to LAHSA.
“We need to be nimble,” said Buscaino. “LA is facing an emergency and we need to act with urgency. Nothing is impossible.”
Updated Tuesday to reflect that fact that the subject in this incident has been released from police custody.