"Just a lot of police cars being called to the apartments," said Claborne. "I heard about the murder down the street."
Murder -- not just one, but several. Four out of five homicides committed in El Monte last year are linked to a small cluster of low-cost motels on Valley Boulevard and Garvey Avenue.
Found shot at the Gibson Inn was 42-year-old Michael Biddle. Elaine Garza was gunned down in the parking lot of the Victory Motel, and at the Win All EZ Inn, Than Cong was murdered by a suspected gang member. Families at the motels live with all kinds of company.
"You have drug addicts, some prostitutes, unfortunately, still living there, not over a long period of time, but they need somewhere to stay," said El Monte Police Lieutenant Santos Hernandez.
Police regularly patrol the area but they say the real key is prevention, and for that they need the help of the motel managers.
At the Win All EZ Inn, the scene of one homicide, Eyewitness News asked one manager what he's doing about crime.
"I didn't see any violence, no,"said Robert Want, manager of Win All EZ Inn. "No, no, no. No murder from my motel, no. My motel is very quiet."
"We have no problem responding to the system, but if they're not calling us in, they're trying to sweep problems under the carpet," said Lt. Hernandez. "That's when you have things, homicides, occur, domestic violence, because they think they can handle it themselves and then it gets out of control."
Police want regular meetings with the managers and a requirement for them to check in on the guests.
"You knock on the door and see if you're smelling odors of marijuana or there are more people staying there than when they rented the room," said Lt. Hernandez.
If the city does not see improvements they may declare the motels a public nuisance and shut them down. But with them would also go shelter for law-abiding families.
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