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‘Like a war zone’: Homeless man recounts when 5 shot

Updated December 2, 2023 - 6:24 pm

Robert Tully, his nose dripping and tears falling on his face, pointed to the blood on the sidewalk where on Friday his friend and four other homeless men were shot, one fatally, by an assailant who remains at large.

His friend, who he said is known as Tim, was shot in the back on the southwest corner of where East Charleston Boulevard meets North Honolulu Street across from Sandhill Road. Tully said Tim had lived out of a blue tent next to other homeless people, some of whom they had known for years.

Another man who had only just joined the group the day before was shot in the head and died, Tully said.

“It’s disgusting,” said Tully, 62, a former high voltage electrician who says he’s been living in Las Vegas since the 1980s and has been without a home for the past 11 years. “That’s just how it looked around here, like a war zone.”

“We’re down on our luck, but…” he said before breaking down, unable to speak amid the loud traffic noises from Charleston in an area strewn with tarps and blankets, dirty clothing, empty food packages, and flies and bees.

All five wounded men, reported shot at 5:34 p.m., were transported to University Medical Center, where one was pronounced dead, one was reported in critical condition and three were in stable condition, said a news release issued Saturday by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Lt. Daniel Alvarado, Metro’s watch commander on duty Saturday afternoon, declined to say if a suspect had been arrested and deferred comment to the Homicide Section or the public information office, which was closed until Monday.

Tully said he was in his nearby makeshift tent when a man whose face was concealed by a hoodie pulled a handgun and started firing at the five men. The shooter then fled across Charleston and headed south on Sandhill.

One of those he said was wounded was Zachery, a 33-year-old man he has known for around five years, about as long as they have been living on the streets in the same area.

“We’ve become real close,” he said. “He’s like my son.”

Zachery was hit in the leg, but Tully said he had heard Zachery is going to survive, he said.

About what motivated the shooter, “I have no clue,” he said. “Maybe because we’re homeless, you know.

“There was no argument or nothing. Everybody was talking, you know, I mean, he just showed up and shot us,” he said. “He focused on the men. There were women there, too. He took aim at the men and shot all five of them.”

Tully said the shooting happened while he was in his tent trying on clothing given to him as a Christmas present.

“All of a sudden it was bam, bam, bam, bam,” he said.

Tully said he took Tim’s small dome-like camping-style tent and threw it over the adjacent cyclone fence to get ready to burn it since it had blood on it. He said he took some plastic tarps and blankets and covered the blood-stained sidewalk.

Tully returned to his tent, where Zachery’s dog was lying quietly.

Asked if he was going to move from there, he said, he would not.

“I mean, what can you do, kill me?” he said. “I believe in God, so…”

Meanwhile, police in Los Angeles announced Saturday that a 33-year-old man already in custody in connection with another shooting has been identified as the suspect in three recent killings of homeless men in Los Angeles.

Jerrid Joseph Powell was arrested Thursday, online jail records show, in connection with the shooting death and robbery of a 42-year-old man late Tuesday in San Dimas, which is about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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