Volunteers hit the streets for 2013 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count
by Lauren Gold
More than 5,000 volunteers have spent three nights canvassing the streets of Los Angeles County looking for the county's more than 50,000 homeless, most of whom are far from Skid Row.
The volunteers worked Tuesday through Thursday in 72 cities and 22 communities in the 2013 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, coordinated by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
LAHSA has been conducting the homeless count every two years since 2005, as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for cities who want to participate in Homeless Assistance Programs, Executive Director Michael Arnold said.
The numbers help HUD officials determine which areas have the biggest homeless populations and where best to allocate federal dollars, Arnold said. And the count helps Homeless Services Authority allocate HUD funds at the local level.
Arnold said LAHSA brings in about $80 million in a year in federal funding for homeless services.
"I think HUD's logic makes a lot of sense to me. It's hard to fix something you don't understand," Arnold said. "If you don't know who is homeless or how many homeless you have in the community, how could you possibly develop a plan to end homelessness?"
LAHSA is responsible for tabulating the homeless population in all of Los Angeles County other than Pasadena, Long Beach and Glendale, which conduct their own counts.
The LAHSA count relies on community volunteers, who spend about three hours after dark walking or driving local streets and visually counting people sleeping on the street, in vehicles or in encampments. Volunteers do not engage anyone they find.
"(Our count is) probably one of the largest logistical coordinating efforts in the country around homelessness," he said.
In 2011, the Homeless Services Authority recorded 45,000 homeless in Los Angeles County, in addition to 7,000 from the counts in Pasadena, Long Beach and Glendale.
Arnold said the data from this year's count will be released in the summer.
Jeremy Sidell, a spokesman for Los Angeles-based People Assisting the Homeless, said the count helps homeless service organizations know how they are doing and how best to focus their efforts in the future.
"We understand that the numbers that are counted translate into the dollars that are available," Sidell said. "But we also work really hard to reduce and end homelessness every day, so it's good to have a benchmark to see how we are doing as a community and kind of reassess our goals as an organization."
Todd Palmquist, executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness, said "homelessness has got such a new face over the last few years because of the economy."
"Where homelessness was always the person pushing the shopping carts with all their belongings, what you are finding now is the homeless are more families, they are seniors, they are transitional-aged youth, they are veterans, they are people that just got stuck in the middle of this," Palmquist said.
And for this perhaps less obvious homeless population to get help, said the Rev. Sheldon Hess of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, cities and individuals have to know they're there - which is where the count comes in.
"It's a process that helps cities recognize that, yes, there are homeless people. It's a city learning experience," Hess said. "It's a tough issue. It's getting better resources than it ever has in the past, but it still an uphill battle."
For more information on the Homeless Count, visit www.theycountwillyou.org.
'American Sniper' Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield were shot multiple times at gun range near Glen Rose
STEPHENVILLE -- Retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the U.S. military's most lethal sniper, and his friend, Chad Littlefield were shot multiple times at a gun range at Rough Creek Lodge west of Glen Rose, Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Sunday afternoon.
A semi-automatic handgun found at suspect Eddie Ray Routh's home in Lancaster might have been the weapon Routh used Saturday to kill them, Bryant said.
After shooting the men, Routh, 25, tried to flee from police who tracked him down to his home. Neighbors said they watched as Routh shut off the engine of Kyle's large black Ford pickup, which was nearly surrounded by armed officers, including a Lancaster police detective who lives next door. Then Routh turned the key and sped from the home on West 6th Street.
"He burned rubber and left in a cloud of black smoke," said Carolyn Greathouse, 57, who lives across the street. "None of the officers, including a policewoman with a shotgun, fired on the suspect as he escaped," Greathouse said.
Routh was later stopped by a stripe of spikes and was arrested about 9 p.m. He was being held Sunday night in the Erath County Jail on two counts of capital murder and $3 million bond, authorities said.
Jodi Leigh Routh, the suspect's mother, had reached out to Kyle to ask him to help her son, said Clint Burgess, a Tarrant County constable and Kyle's friend. Kyle did not know Eddie Routh, but knew his mother, Burgess said in an email from New Orleans.
"She was worried about her son and asked Chris if he could help him overcome PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)," Burgess said.
Kyle, 38, and Littlefield, 35, had taken Routh to the range at the posh Rough Creek Lodge near Glen Rose, said Travis Cox, the director of a nonprofit Kyle helped found. Littlefield was Kyle's neighbor and "workout buddy" in Midlothian, Cox told The Associated Press on Sunday.
"What I know is Chris and a gentleman, Chad Littlefield, took a veteran out shooting who was struggling with PTSD to try to assist him, try to help him, try to, you know, give him a helping hand, and he turned the gun on both of them, killing them," Cox said.
Routh's immediate family could not be reached Sunday. But an aunt, Sundae Hughes of Cedar Hill, said the family was trying to "gather it all in."
"My thoughts and prayers go first out to the families who lost loved ones. And my thoughts and prayers go out to Eddie's mom and dad, Jodi and Raymond." Hughes said before breaking down in tears.
Kyle, who co-authored the best-selling memoir, American Sniper , had the most confirmed sniper kills in U.S. military history, over 150, which he racked up during four tours in Iraq. After 10 years in the service, Kyle returned to Midlothian, where he lived in the Twin Creek development with his wife, Taya and their two children. He helped create Craft International, a Dallas training and security company.
At a news conference Sunday, authorities said the three men entered Rough Creek Lodge, a remote gun range about 77 miles southwest of Fort Worth between Glen Rose and Hico, at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
"There were no witnesses. No one heard any type of an argument," Bryant said.
At 5 p.m., a hunting guide discovered two men near the range who appeared to have been shot. The guide called 911.
By then, Routh had driven away from the resort in Kyle's black Ford pickup, which he drove to Midlothian.
"He stopped and told his sister and brother-in-law what had happened," Bryant said. "He left Midlothian and drove to his home in Lancaster. They [his sister and brother-in-law] notified authorities."
Authorities located Routh at his Lancaster home about 8 p.m. Saturday.
"He made his way to a vehicle and drove away," said DPS trooper Lonny Haschel. "That started a pursuit."
Just before 9 p.m. Saturday, authorities used spikes on Interstate 35E and Camp Wisdom Road, where they disabled the vehicle Routh was driving. He was arrested without incident, police said.
Routh, who is unemployed, was returned to Erath County late Saturday.
"He's in a cell by himself," the sheriff said Sunday. "He will be watched closely."
Authorities offered no motive for the slayings.
"I don't know if anyone knows why," Bryant said. "The suspect may have had some mental illness. He was a Marine for four years. There may have been some complications from that but we don't know for sure."
A hearing is pending for Routh in Erath County, said Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash.
The U.S. military confirmed Sunday that Routh was a corporal in the Marines from June 2006 to January 2010. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and Haiti in 2010. His current duty status is listed as Reserve.
The sheriff said Kyle and Littlefield were friends.
Capt. Jason Upshaw with the Erath County Sheriff's Office said the weapon found in Routh's home was being examined by investigators to determine if it was used to kill Kyle and Littlefield. He said ballistics tests were incomplete Sunday, but authorities believe it was the gun that was used Saturday.
Upshaw declined to say if any other weapons were found in Routh's home.
Lancaster neighbor Daniel Elizondo said he knew Routh had served in the Marines, but he never talked about his war service. When Elizondo talked to Routh about his nephew's battle experiences, Routh would nod and agree, but wouldn't volunteer anything about himself.
"Eddie didn't seem like the person who could do something like this," said Elizondo, who operates a Richardson auto paint and body business. Routh lived alone but had a girlfriend, he said.
"He socialized with us, was easy going, came to our barbecues. I have just no idea what might have brought this on."
Routh did freelance carpentry work and recently had asked Elizondo to apply camouflage colors to his Volkswagen Beetle. The car, which is bright red with large black polka dots and a Marine Corps sticker on the rear window, was parked in the driveway of the Lancaster home on Sunday. Woodworking tools could be seen inside.
Elizondo said Kyle, wearing a camouflage cap, pulled up to his house in a large black Ford pickup about 12:30 p.m. Saturday and asked for Eddie Routh. Elizondo said he pointed to the modest beige single-story frame home a few doors down the road.
New York writer Jim DeFelice, who co-authored American Sniper , said Kyle had a history of reaching out to disabled veterans. He said Kyle arranged outings to Texas ranches to show the vets that despite their injuries, they were still capable of having a life.
"It's terrible, but there's stuff you can do," DeFelice said Kyle told a group of wounded warriors. "And I'm going to speak really slowly because there's some Army guys here," he joked.
American Sniper became a major success, hitting No. 1 on the New York Times bestsellers' list where it remained for seven weeks.
Kyle took none of the royalties from the book, according to his publisher, William Morrow, and DeFelice.
DeFelice said Kyle donated his royalties to the families of two Navy Seals, Marc Lee and Ryan Job, who fought alongside him in a 2006 battle that led to their deaths.
Sharyn Rosenblum, a spokeswoman for William Morrow, said 850,000 copies of the hardbound, paperback and e-book versions had been released. She declined to disclose actual sales. DeFelice said Kyle's royalties, "amounted to a lot of money, a lot of money."
"Chris was a hero as much on the home front as on the battlefield, a man who dedicated his life in recent years to supporting veterans, and donated the proceeds of American Sniper to the families of his fallen friends," said Peter Hubbard, Morrow's executive editor.
"Chris would never keep any money for appearances or book signings. It all went to others," said Burgess, a Mansfield based Constable.
Burgess said he and Kyle planned to work security together at the Super Bowl on Sunday, but logistical issues prevented Kyle from traveling. He said his friend always wore a smile and enjoyed a good laugh.
Burgess said Kyle told him he planned to attend a police academy and start a career in law enforcement.
"He really wanted to be a cop and continue serving his country," Burgess said.
Alabama standoff continues into sixth day as officials say gunman Jimmy Lee Dykes keeps young hostage ‘comfortable'
The 5-year-old kindergartner, who has Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was taken off a school bus Tuesday after police say Dykes killed the driver. A funeral was held Sunday for Charles Albert Poland, 66, who was hailed as a hero.
by Erik Ortiz
The standoff between police and a 65-year-old man holding a young child hostage has stretched into the sixth day in a southern Alabama town, leaving residents to wait and pray for a nonviolent end.
Over the weekend, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson even expressed gratitude to the gunman, Jimmy Lee Dykes, who police say fatally shot a man Tuesday before abducting a 5-year-old boy identified only as Ethan.
“I want to thank him for taking care of our child,” Olson told reporters Saturday. “That is very important.”
Dykes has been holding the kindergartner, who reportedly has Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, in his underground bunker in rural Midland City.
While officials aren't saying whether Dykes has made any demands, he has apparently left the young boy unharmed. The child has been given his medication as well as coloring books, a red Hot Wheels car and cheese-flavored crackers.
Dykes told officials the homemade bunker — built as a protection from tornadoes — is equipped with blankets and electric heaters.
“We continue to maintain an open line of communication with Mr. Dykes. He continues to make the environment as comfortable as possible for the child,” FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said Sunday, according to CNN.
Dykes snatched the boy from a school bus after killing the driver, 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland, who tried to stop him, authorities said.
A funeral was held for Poland Sunday, and he was hailed as a hero for helping the other children on the bus escape.
“He gave the ultimate sacrifice for them,” Donny Bynum, superintendent of Dale County schools. “He was their hero. And now Mr. Poland is an angel. He's watching over (the abducted boy), his family, and those that are working tirelessly to bring one of Mr. Poland's children home.”
Bynum also read letters from some of the school children, who also called Poland a hero.
“Since you were the nicest person I've met, I'll be the same way,” wrote one girl. “I hope you are happy knowing you protected and saved many others.”
The taking of a school child by an armed man comes against the backdrop of heightened concerns about gun violence in America.
Dykes, meanwhile, has been described as an anti-government loner who's squabbled with neighbors and even pointed his gun at them, according to reports.
The Vietnam veteran had been scheduled to appear for a bench trial last Wednesday after his arrest in December on a menacing charge involving one of his neighbors