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Few clues in Long Beach homeless deaths

November 3, 2008 |  6:48 am

The bizarre killing of five homeless people off a Long Beach freeway interchange is still very much a mystery. The Times' Harriet Ryan and Ari B. Bloomekatz report on the strange circumstances:

An anonymous caller tipped authorities Sunday morning about a slaying in an area near the 1500 block of West Wardlow Road. When Long Beach police arrived, they found two women and three men dead, some with multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said.

"We don't know who did this, not yet at least," said Long Beach Deputy Police Chief Robert Luna.

The victims, who were pronounced dead at the scene, have not been identified. Luna said he did not know whether any of them were homeless or only visiting the encampment. "They were residents of Long Beach, at least last night," he said.

Residents in a nearby apartment complex on West Wardlow Road said they heard several gunshots and shouting early Sunday morning.

"It was so many, it sounded like fireworks," said Leticia Walker, who said she was in her apartment about 12:15 a.m. when she heard the noise.

Another resident, Tippi Briggs, said that about the same time, she heard a woman scream and then a man shout "Get in the car! Get in the car! Let's go!"

The Press Telegram says police have not ruled out a drug deal gone bad, but detectives have little evidence:

According to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, the victims, three males and two females -- all adults -- had all been shot.

"We're still investigating the identity," said Ed Winter, assistant chief of the Los Angeles Coroner's Office. "There were multiple gunshot wounds on some of the deceased."

-- Shelby Grad