A California family says the homelessness crisis in their city is out of control, following an alleged kidnapping attempt on their young daughter.
A harrowing video released by Los Angeles authorities shows Evan McLaurin-Nelson, 31, approaching Noheli Avilia, who is holding her 6-year-old daughter.
The incident took place in Venice Beach, a residential neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Surveillance footage shows McLaurin-Nelson, a homeless man with a lengthy rap sheet, appearing to try to take the girl out of her mother’s arms, before being stopped and restrained by the child’s father and uncle.
Los Angeles Police Officers responded and took McLaurin-Nelson into custody, authorities said in a statement.
Authorities said the incident took place at a pizza restaurant on Jan. 4, KTLA reported.
“All he was saying was, ‘I need to take her. I need to save her,'” Avilia told KTLA while describing McLaurin-Nelson’s words during the incident.
According to KTLA, the family says the homeless situation in Venice Beach has gotten “downright dangerous.”
“It’s horrible,” Avilia told the TV station. “We didn’t know how many homeless people [there were] until after everything happened. There’s a lot of homeless people there.”
Family members told KTLA it took six officers to subdue McLaurin-Nelson and that he appeared to be intoxicated.
Police said McLaurin-Nelson has a criminal record in California and Nevada, with alleged crimes including indecent exposure, battery and disorderly conduct, according to KTLA.
McLaurin-Nelson was charged with attempted kidnapping and resisting or obstructing police, court records show.
He plead not guilty and is due back in court on Jan. 20. His bail has been set at $160,000.
The homelessness crisis
The homeless crisis in Los Angeles has prompted the city’s Democratic mayor, Eric Garcetti, to look across party lines for help.
Garcetti wrote to the Trump administration to formally request federal assistance with the growing numbers of homeless on the city’s streets.
The letter, dated Jan. 9 and made public on Friday, seeks federal aid to “move our unhoused neighbors into shelter, build permanent housing” and supply services to the homeless.
An estimated 130,000 people are homeless somewhere in California on any given day, more than any other state, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. California is the most populous state in the United States, home to about 39.6 million people.
While federal statistics show homelessness trending downward nationwide, Los Angeles is among a number of American cities that have struggled with vagrancy.
Bloomberg Businessweek reported last November that at least 10 West Coast cities, from Los Angeles to Seattle, have in recent years declared states of emergency because of out-of-control homelessness.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)
- Surveillance footage of Evan McLaurin-Nelson allegedly attempting to kidnap a young girl. January 7, 2020.: Screen grab