Shooting at Mar Vista homeless encampment has residents, business owners on edge

MAR VISTA, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A shooting at a homeless encampment in Mar Vista is just the latest in a wave of violence that has business owners and neighbors on edge.

Caught on video, you see a suspect opening fire on a homeless encampment as he leans out the passenger door of a car under the 405 Freeway overpass on Venice Boulevard.

Surveillance cameras captured the violence in the same location for a second time. The first happened last July, and neighbors are enraged over the violence.

"I'm the one who's being affected, not the city," said business owner George Frem. "The city talks, talks, talks but I'm the one on the front lines. Where's the city? How did they move a single one of them from under the bridge?"

Frem owns a high-end auto repair store and says business is declining because customers don't feel safe.

Eyewitness News cameras were last at that location in July. Since then, the number of tents has drastically increased and Frem says so has crime.

"You see the drug sale and you see the customers that come and sell and you see the prostitution and you see the littering, and you see every violation possible," he said.

A representative for Councilmember Mike Bonin says people can legally live on sidewalks in Los Angeles until the city provides enough shelters for its homeless population. So moving these people isn't an option right now. But the councilman says he's pushing hard for alternative housing options on the Westside.

Bonin's office says they've been sending volunteers and groups to do biweekly cleanings. They've also had outreach groups go and offer services to the homeless.

Francisco Aldana lives in the homeless encampment at night and works during the day. He recognizes the violence in the area but says he doesn't have anywhere else to go.

"There are good citizens that are here, that are just trying to make a living, that just want to go ahead and get by, but don't have anywhere to go and don't have the income to afford an apartment for themselves," Aldana said.

Frem, on the other hand, is a longtime business owner who's watching the deterioration of his neighborhood. He says something has to change.

"Unfortunately, the city of Angels became the city of zombies," he said.
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