Fatal Shooting Draws Attention to Extensive Homeless Encampment in Panorama City

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An investigation was underway at a densely populated homeless encampment that stretches for several blocks in Panorama City after a man was found shot to death there Friday morning.

An investigation was underway at a homeless encampment on Aug. 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

An investigation was underway at a homeless encampment on Aug. 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

The fatal shooting took place about 5 a.m. after a brief argument between two men, according to a news release from the Los Angeles Police Department.

The victim was shot multiple times in the upper torso and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a Mission Station sergeant. Police described him as a 24-year-old Panorama City resident.

His name was not released pending family notification.

Aerial video from Sky5 showed investigators searching a homeless encampment located near the intersection of West Arminta Street and Van Nuys Boulevard (map). The LAPD release gave the location of the encampment as in the 14600 block of Cabrito Road.

Several people living at the camp said they witnessed the shooting.

"It ain't OK. You just get killed for nothing," said one man.

Another witness did not want to speak publicly and said she feared for her life.

There was no word on what may have led to the shooting, but the investigation has brought a spotlight to the encampment, which appeared to harbor hundreds of people and their pets, living in squalor.

Tents, tarps and makeshift shacks stretch for blocks in the industrial neighborhood.

The camp stretches along an area of railroad tracks, and behind a Smart & Final store. It apparently started up with just a few people in late April.

"It's rough living here, but you've got to survive somehow," one resident said.

Residents of a homeless encampment in Panorama City are seen on Aug. 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Residents of a homeless encampment in Panorama City are seen on Aug. 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Residents say the rapidly growing camp is unsafe for the homeless and the public.

“This homeless encampment is very scary. … It’s very dangerous to ride my bicycle, very dangerous to walk around. I’ve been attacked. I’ve been panhandled for money,” said Art Stalk, a Panorama City resident.

Homeless residents of the camp claimed they were given a 72-hour verbal notice to vacate by police during Friday's investigation. LAPD told KTLA no such order was given.

L.A. City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who represents the neighborhood, issued a statement Friday in response to concerns of local businesses and area residents about the encampment.

"Over the past year, we have coordinated with various agencies and LAPD to help clean the area up. Furthermore, on July 28, at my request, the City Council approved the vacation of this unused street so that we can permanently close it off at Van Nuys Boulevard and prevent any illicit activity and homeless encampments,” Martinez wrote in a statement.

The encampment has yet to be evacuated because the property owner has to meet certain conditions to make it happen, a representative of the councilwoman’s office stated.

KTLA's Alberto Mendez contributed to this report.

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