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Family speaks about MTA Red Line stabbing

Jesse Garay, 59, was fatally stabbed on the Metro Red Line on Aug. 19, 2011.
September 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Major questions are being raised about MTA security in the wake of the first homicide in Metro Red Line history. The victim's family spoke out in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News.

The stabbing took place at the Metro station at Hollywood and Vine on August 19.

Ray Garay says a piece of plastic chain was all it took to touch off a deadly encounter on the Metro Red Line. The victim was his 59-year-old brother, Jesse Garay, who was twirling the chain in a confrontation that allegedly provoked another passenger, who responded by stabbing him.

The victim's brother, mother and attorney now ask why it came to this.

"I just want justice for the murder my son," said the victim's mother, Janie Garay. "Because he had no right to take his life."

"Trains are not nearly as safe as safe as advertised," said Michael Alder, an attorney for the Garay family.

The family wants security stepped up. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is now chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is asking questions too about the death.

"We want to know about the allocation of deputies, the times, are they appropriately patrolling the area. And we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect the riding public," said Villaraigosa.

A report on transit safety is due next week.

It took four days to find the suspect who fled from the train, Gene Sim, who has a history of arrests, including assault with a deadly weapon.

The L.A. County District Attorney is still weighing whether it was case of self-defense.

The Sheriff's transit deputies say there was some confusion about intervening or catching the alleged killer faster.

"We were only advised -- at first it came out as a medical emergency, and as we were going down the stairs we were advised it was a stabbing, we didn't have a description," said L.A. County Sheriff's Commander Pat Jordan. "So the deputies and the suspect probably passed on the stairwell."

The sheriff's department says they can't be everywhere on a system that transports 1.5 million people a day. What might have helped, they say, was the emergency intercom. There were 50 passengers in that car. Not a single one called the operator.

"For us to get a timely response we really need somebody to let us know what is going on," said Jordan.

Alder says more officer presence would have made a difference.

"You have to have an adequate show of security force that makes it appear that you will be almost everywhere and that is the deterrent part of security," said Alder.

Alder's launched a website, "Make MTA Safer," to exchange information with passengers on safety.

"Once those doors shut you are basically on your own. There's nobody there to help you," said the Jesse Garay's brother Ray.

The alleged attacker remains in jail on a probation violation. It may be a week or more before the D.A. decides whether to charge him.

The investigation continues.


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