Murder On Marathon

Cross-posted from

My inbox Wednesday held an email from someone otherwise unidentified save for the “silverlakenews” in the sender’s address. The message within included a link to an April 4 story on headlined “Man Shot And Killed After Opening Front Door.”

The sum of the short article is as follows:

(CBS) SILVER LAKE, Calif. A man was fatally shot when he opened the front door of his home in the Silver Lake area after hearing noises in his yard, police said Tuesday.

The man died at a hospital of a gunshot wound he suffered about 8:20 Monday night in the 3900 block of West Marathon Street, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.

Authorities withheld the man’s name, pending notification of his relatives.

According to police, the victim was sitting in his living room when he heard noises outside. When he opened his front door to investigate, he was shot once in the face.

Detectives were unsure of a motive for the crime, which apparently involved two male suspects. No arrests were reported.

Since a hospital transport was involved, I immediately clicked over to the indispensable LAFD News & Information blog to see if LAFD Spokesman Brian Humphrey, its equally indispensable primary contributor, had posted anything about it… but found nothing there. So I emailed him directly and received a speedy reply back saying he was out of the office and would look into it as soon as he returned. So in the meantime, I detoured from my plan of poachin’ more ‘quats and took a walk over there yesterday to see what I could see.


The 3900 block of Marathon in East Hollywood is bordered by Virgil on the west and Hoover on the east. I entered it from the Hoover side and found it to be a quiet, tree-lined street with a mix of bungalow homes among a variety of apartment buildings. Four days removed from the crime I was expecting to find little evidence of the murder and its subsequent investigation — and I wasn’t disappointed.


So I was left searching for clues — anything that might point me to the scene of the crime. Could it have happened here at this quaint little craftsman whose front porch and steps was marred by some sort of pink discoloration, maybe from spilled blood mixing with some sort of chalk outlining that didn’t get the clean up it deserved?


Upon closer inspection I surmised it to be nothing more than aged spray paint and kept going west. A few more doors down at 3920 there was an apartment building with a U.S. flag attached proudly from a stucco’d balcony above a carport, but nothing that could be said to resemble a remnant of foul play.


A few more steps and I thought I’d found something, a fragment of tell-tale caution tape flapping in the wind near the entrance to a building’s garage… but drawn across to it on the north side of the street I found that instead of demanding bystanders to stay back, it only warned of wet paint.

m05.jpgit was about then that I gave some thought as to why I was here. What is it that draws me on these goose chases searching through the aftermaths of violence and death? Certainly the proximity of the crimes to where I live is a strong factor as is my obvious curiosity. Sure, I’ll even admit to something of a morbid fascination.

But there’s something more to this pilgrimage. There’s a basic need to seek out and bear whatever witness I can. Though it might be nothing more than a strictly symbolic gesture, it is important for me to stand and recognize the location of the horrible waste of a life. I guess for me it’s a way of fighting back, of beating the fear, or at least mitigating it. It’s too easy to read an online news brief and automatically judge a place like the 3900 block of Marathon Street as a no man’s land to be avoided at all costs. But standing on this stretch of street under blue skies and clouds and sunshine with birds in the air and people coming and going and life happening… all of it helps to reduce the shadow of death and with it the desire to judge this place unfairly. Nothing can minimize the murder that has taken place, but being here does go a distance in understanding that the place is not to blame.

Almost directly back across on the south side of the street some movement catches my eye along a walkway above a vast bed of ivy and I find a man in an official looking orange vest taking measurements. LA’s version of a CSI investigator. maybe? Perhaps following up with additional data on bullet trajectories? No, the nearby equipment and tripod pointed to him simply being a surveyor. But then again, when I passed the heavily tagged house-number board at the entrance of the seven-unit complex he is working in it seemed I could very well be getting warmer.


Or not. I keep moving west looking around. But all I find is a group of four men standing between me and Virgil within the shadows of some under-trimmed curbside trees. They’re holding paper-bagged cans of beer and they don’t see me until the dog and I are almost upon them. Then they do double takes and make way while making half-baked attempts to hide their beverages. As I pass they all smile and one of them comments about Shadow.

“That’s a pretty dog. Is it male or female?” he asks. I say thank you and tell him Shadow’s female.

“Ohhhh, nice!”

I get beyond them then stop and turn. “Say, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure!” he says and he walks a bit unsteadily up to me, ending up a little too close. HIs eyes have that numb and watered-down look of trying to see the world through a six-pack of beer.

“By any chance did you hear about a shooting around here earlier this week?” I answer by making the international hand symbol for a gun, and he answers quickly and expansively and solemnly in the affirmative. His breath confirms my assessment of his wholly inebriated condition.

“On Monday?” Again he lets out a slow and low “Yesssss!” and he weebles a bit on his feet.

“Do you know where it happened?” This throws him and he gives me an abrupt “Hunh?”

“Did it happen here?” I point to the run-down apartments nearest to us. He pauses for a second, but again I get nothing more than “Hunh?”

“The shooting…” I make my hand into a gun again, this time pulling the trigger and making a soft boom sound. “Do you know where the shooting took place on this street?” He swings his head to look at my hand, rolls it back to look at me, weebles a little more before letting go with an “Ohhhhh… I dunno.”

“You don’t know?”

“I dunno.”

“OK then!” I say with a laugh and thank him as I turn and continue toward Virgil. From behind me he calls out “That’s a nice dog!” I wave without looking back. At the corner of Virgil and Marathon I find this:


A couple blocks up the irony of the street’s name that I cross isn’t lost on me:


In my inbox this morning was the information that Brian Humphrey was able to provide. Here’s a digest of it:

• The incident was reported to the Los Angeles Fire Department via multiple 911 calls beginning at 8:07 p.m. April 4.

• Witnesses reported hearing shots and discovering one wounded male inside the apartment building at 3951 Marathon Street.

• The victim was a 26 year-old male who despite the best efforts of the team of LAFD paramedics, went into cardiac arrest during transport to County-USC Medical Center and was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at the hospital.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."