An Asian woman in her 60s was killed in a sledgehammer attack on Christmas Eve morning while walking her dog on a college campus in Los Angeles County, California, police said.
The woman was collecting recyclables at the El Camino College campus near Torrance when she was suddenly attacked by a man with sledgehammer around 7:00 a.m., KTLA reported. The man fled the scene before law enforcement arrived.
“A passerby had spotted the fallen woman next to the gymnasium building. Arriving officers found the woman unconscious and bleeding from her head,” according to the report. “Her dog had remained by her side. Paramedics transferred the woman to a local hospital where she died on Christmas Day from her injuries.”
Campus police identified the suspect as 40-year-old Jeffery Davis after reviewing surveillance footage. Police said they have seen Davis around the community before and believe him to be homeless.
“The person that we had an idea of who was on the security footage is, we believe, a homeless person we’ve had contact with before,” said Sgt. Francisco Esqueda of El Camino College Police. “So we were able to go to the neighboring county park where he sometimes hangs out and that’s where we found him.”
One of the woman’s neighbors told the local news outlet she learned of the attack from the woman’s family after trying to bring her a Christmas gift.
“It’s devastating,” said Leslie Andersen, the victim’s neighbor. “It’s gut-wrenching. I’m still in shock. Our dogs became friends so they would play together and we would talk. Just the sweetest woman.”
Other residents told the outlet they are on edge after the attack.
“It’s scary seeing that a lot of people do come around this area where there are families,” said a local resident. “You might think they’re just homeless people but you don’t know their psychological or mental health so it’s a very scary thing.”
Davis was arrested and is being held without bail. The motive behind the attack is unclear, according to the report. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the case.
The L.A. County Medical Examiner is determining the woman’s official cause of death.
Anyone with information about this incident can call the LASD’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be submitted to “Crime Stoppers” at 800-222-8477 or online at lacrimestoppers.org.