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Authorities in Los Angeles arrested a woman Monday after they say she pulled out a knife just a few feet away from City Councilman Joe Buscaino, according to reports.
The incident occurred after Buscaino, a mayoral candidate, spoke in Venice about the city’s homelessness crisis. He had just urged a city crackdown on tents in parks, beaches and sidewalks.
“Our city has devolved into a place where chaos is common … people tell me every day that they no longer feel safe in our city,″ Buscaino said.
LAPD officers wrestle a knife away from a person called Angel who they arrested for assault with a deadly weapon as she stood only a few feet behind Los Angeles Mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Los Angeles, CA. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images).
He finished his speech and was shaking hands when Nico Ruderman, a Venice resident, said he saw the woman standing behind Buscaino holding a knife.
“She said, ‘I’m gonna start killing people,’ and I jumped forward and grabbed Joe,” Ruderman said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Private security guards pulled their guns and hurried Buscaino to a black SUV, a video showed. Police officers detained the woman, who was identified as Alaia Smith, 19, a resident of Washington state, police said.
The Times reported that the suspect was homeless who told the crowd that her name was Angel as she was being detained.
Smith also yelled that she had the knife for both protection and to cut fruit, the paper reported. The LAPD said she was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, FOX 11 reported.
During the arrest, a police captain was cut with the knife and is receiving medical treatment, another LAPD spokesman told the Times.
“I am grateful for my safety, the safety of the public, and the quick action of the Los Angeles Police Department,” Buscaino said in a statement. “This is exactly why I was in Venice Beach today, charting a new course for our city, and I am convinced now, more than ever, that bold action is needed to make our city safer for everyone, regardless of housing status.”
Buscaino, who served in the LAPD for 15 years, represents the 15th Council District, which doesn’t include Venice Beach. He is running for mayor next year when the term of Eric Garcetti expires.
Garcetti’s tenure has been marred by a crisis of homelessness that became a national embarrassment despite a massive jump in government spending to fight it by providing temporary shelter and several high-profile cleanups of encampments.
Buscaino is expected to focus his campaign on quality of life through improving public safety and addressing homelessness, FOX 11 of Los Angeles reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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