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Hundreds Attend Khaimov Murder Meeting
Thursday, March 20, 2008 - By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood
West Hollywood, California (Thursday, March 20, 2008) - Around 300 neighbors of Poinsettia Park attended a public meeting there Tuesday night to express their fear and anger over last week's murder of Katan Khaimov just yards away at Romaine and Martel on the West Hollywood border.
Hundreds of people took every seat in the Poinsettia Park gymnasiuium Tuesday night to hear more about the murder of Katan Khaimov. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
Ruth Williams, a West Hollywood resident who lives a few blocks away and also acts as vice-chair of the Los Angeles-based Fairfax Business Association and attended the event as the Chair person of the WeHo Public Safety Commission, told WeHoNews that she had never seen such a gathering - not since 1984, anyway.
"This reminds me of those days before [West Hollywood] cityhood," she said, "when nobody thought anyone listened, nobody cared."
Pointing out that there were two violent street killings within the previous couple weeks, she said, "People are afraid and they feel the need to gather."
Katan Khaimov was stabbed around ten o'clock pm on March 9, 2008 and, despite neighbors hearing his pleas for help, left on the sidewalk for an hour before assistance was called.
He died from his wound an hour later, at midnight.
The neighbors told police that they thought he was just another drunken transient lying on the street and saw no reason to heed his cries.
Katan Khaimov was stabbed on the street just outside WeHo and died after lying for an hour pleading for help from his neighbors and passersby, who ignored him. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
Just four days earlier and four blocks away, on March 5, a 25 year old Latino man was shot and killed in an alleyway.
LAPD says that killing was an "officer involved shooting," by a U.S. Marshall.
The Los Angeles Times, which carried the initial report of that killing, failed to report anything but the shooting and the arrest of a suspect, leaving the community to believe that, too, was a homicide.
A friend of the Khaimov family, Peter Nichols, spearheaded the gathering because, as he told WeHoNews, "We're all worried about our safety."
Yet the deceased's family worried more about the rent in society's, and their neighborhood's, moral fabric.
He announced a $50,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of Mr. Khaimov's assailant, but said nothing about the bad Samaritans residing in the community's midst.
The Khaimov daughters, Olga and Angela, addressing the crowded gym. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
Mr. Weiss, who is termed out of office but running for LA City Attorney, left immediately after his speech and before the community could question the authorities.
Captain Clay Farrell, commander of the Hollywood Station, gave the crowd statistic after statistic that he claimed showed that crime was down in the area, saying at one point, "[LAPD's] job is to give you the perception of safety."
According to speaker after speaker, the force had failed miserably in that objective.
One person took the community microphone to say to him, "You're incredibly good with statistics, but we're not here to hear those.
"There are a million people here tonight with many ideas [on how to prevent street crime] and you should be listening to us," he said to great applause.
LA City Council member Jack Weiss offered a $50,000 reward for the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Khaimov's killer. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
He went on, pointing out that the neighbors wanted to be heard, saying, "We want to hear [and offer] solutions, but our city council man made his PR appearance and appears to have left." That comment was greeted by applause, too.
Another man, who introduced himself only as David, told the gathering that he had recently been held up at gunpoint only blocks away.
Saying that he seldom saw a patrol car on a side street, he said, "I get the impression that, unless you're on a major thoroughfare, you'll never see a squad car."
Capt. Farrell explained that LAPD chose to patrol areas with greater concentrations of cars and people.
"If we're on the side streets we could interdict more crimes like yours, but at the cost of not protecting more people," he said.
Mrs. Khaimov at the public meeting flanked by her son and granddaughter. Mr. Khaimov's brother and sister-in-law also flew in from Israel to be with the family. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
Still, the questioners and commentators made the transient population and their presumed addictions and violent behavior the focus of their complaints, with more than one speaker accusing them of being drunk and drug addled.
One speaker, however, turned that focus around when he declared, "My name is Anthony Alexander. I'm one of those transients you all are attacking.
"I choose to live outside; I don't drink, I don't do drug and I don't hurt anybody," he said. "I live outdoors because I choose to, and to attack people because they live outside is unfair."
He then asked, "Would this turnout be the same size if the victim was homeless?"
Mr. Nichols then reminded the crowd that his neighbors' ignoring his pleas may prove to be the reason Mr. Khaimov died.
Former State Assembly member Paul Koretz, who is running for the LA City Council seat being vacated by Mr. Weiss. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
"We need to take care of each ourselves and each other," he said, asking everybody to consider where they might fit into creating a safer, more compassionate neighborhood.
Former State Assembly member Paul Koretz, who is running for the LA City Council seat being vacated by Mr. Weiss, offered a $5,000 reward "matching challenge.
"I'll put up the first $5,000 and will ask every other public official in the area to match that with 5,000 of their own until we reach $100,000," he said.
"When a reward gets to real money like that," he said, "friends and family will begin to consider turning the assailant in."
Before the event began, he told WeHoNews that he felt the real tragedy was the loss of community cohesiveness and the callous disregard for human life exhibited by those who heard Mr. Khaimov pleading for assistance but who shunned him as a likely drunk transient.
"That he was left there dying on the street was the most shocking aspect of the tragedy,' he said.
West Hollywood City Council member John Heilman Photo by Stewart James.
He added that he had heard West Hollywood would once again offer to take over the park, saying, "That would be a win-win for everyone.
"West Hollywood could come in top provide essential social services that LA can't offer and the Sheriff's Department would then be patrolling the area."
To the crowd he offered several suggestions on how changes in the park might bring about more security for the entire neighborhood, including asking WeHo to take over patrolling the park, adding fencing and even a citizens' patrol.
West Hollywood City Council member John Heilman attended the event as well, so WeHoNews asked him if there was renewed interest on the City's part in taking the park over.