Police monitored homeless man via camera before fatal stabbing in California
A bystander called Ventura, Calif., police about 6:25 p.m. Wednesday to report a homeless man shouting and being disruptive on the city's beachfront pier and promenade.
With no patrol cars available, police monitored the man, later identified as Jamal Jackson, 49, via pier security cameras for about 20 minutes before deciding he wasn't a threat and canceling the call, reported The Ventura County Star.
About two hours later, Jackson walked up to a stranger, Anthony Mele Jr., 35, and stabbed him in the neck as he ate dinner at the promenade's Aloha Steakhouse with his 5-year-old daughter, Willow, on his lap. Mele later died. Bystanders pursued and helped capture Jackson, who faces murder charges.
Now Mele’s mother, Rebecca Mele, is questioning why police didn’t do more after the earlier report, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"This guy was being watched the whole time; he was being monitored by the cops and they didn't do anything," she told the publication. "The cops didn't come and instead watched him on camera … so he was still walking around at night."
A Ventura Police Department statement said police monitored Jackson for about 20 minutes before he moved out of view of pier security cameras after the 6:25 p.m. call.
"During that time, Command Center staff determined Jackson did not appear to be disturbing or threatening and canceled the call for service," the statement read.
Court records show Jackson has previous convictions for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse from the early 1990s.
A 30-minute video from Wednesday evening released by police shows Jackson sitting on a guardrail on the promenade. At one point, he waves at two passers-by and asks for cigarettes. The man gives Jackson a cigarette and lighter, then they speak for a few moments as Jackson smokes and he takes the couple’s picture.
Rebecca Mele told the Los Angeles Times that she also questioned the city’s response to the pervasive problem of homelessness.
"To the mayor, I say, 'What are you doing?' " she told the publication. "This is your city and so are the homeless people. We should have something to provide for them. It's very hard. I understand there were complaints (about the suspect's behavior), the police didn't answer and now my son is dead."
Anthony Mele, an AT&T branch manager, died Thursday night after being removed from life support, reported The Ventura County Star. His daughter was not injured in the attack.
In a statement Friday, Ventura Mayor Neal Andrews decried the incident, according to the publication.
“We are extremely disheartened and infuriated by this criminal attack,” Andrews wrote in the statement. “We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses.”
Police have stepped up patrols on the promenade and are continuing to investigate the attack, the publication reported.
Mele’s friends have started a GoFundMe account to raise money for his family. As of Monday, the account had raised nearly $93,000 of its $100,000 goal.