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Orange County officials reach out to the homeless after killings

February 4, 2012 |  3:27 pm

Credit: Allen J. Schaben

The recent killings of four homeless men in north Orange County led to the arrest of suspect Itzcoatl Ocampo last month. But the unease and apprehension in the homeless encampments and living rooms of the communities where the fatal stabbings occurred may linger for some time.

That was the message Saturday at a community meeting and homeless outreach effort at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, where crisis counselors were on hand to talk about the emotional trauma that can follow such events.

“Anger, fear, sadness, shock, hyper-vigilance, anxiety -- all these are normal stress reactions,” said Heather Williams, a counselor who works with the county’s victim assistance program. “We’re here to help people normalize these fears and validate their experiences. And for the homeless community, it’s an opportunity to get the message out that there are resources to help them with this.”

Volunteers in the parking lot collected donated blankets, sleeping bags and clothing for the homeless.

“People are still anxious” in the homeless community, said Anaheim Police Lt. Julian Harvey, who headed the multi-agency task force that investigated the killings. But, he added, “anecdotally, it appears that the word is out that we have the right guy in jail.”

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-- Mike Anton in Anaheim

Photo: Donny Hopkins, center, of Anaheim, who chased down and helped police catch alleged homeless serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo, listens to a speaker at a community meeting and homeless outreach effort at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim. Credit: Allen J. Schaben.

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