Jasmine Preciado, 22, grew up locally and had a 3-year-old daughter
By Joe Piasecki, Gary Walker and Christina Campodonico
A group of unidentified assailants stabbed a 22-year-old pregnant woman to death on Nov. 21 just steps away from the iconic Venice Sign at Windward and Pacific avenues.
Jasmine Preciado — also the mother of a 3-year-old girl — grew up in and was eventually priced out of Venice’s rapidly gentrifying Oakwood neighborhood east of Abbot Kinney Boulevard, said longtime friend and former Mark Twain Middle School classmate Mayra Ortiz.
Ortiz, who is godmother to Preciado’s daughter, described her friend as an extraordinarily generous person who did her best to rise above life’s challenges while also lifting the spirits of those around her.
“There were days when I didn’t have a dollar in my pocket and she’d split her $5 with me so we could both have something,” Ortiz said. “She went through a lot of hardship and heartbreak. Despite everything, she still managed to keep a smile on her face.”
Police say witnesses saw Preciado, who was four months pregnant and out on a date with her boyfriend, confronted by two women and one man just prior to the 9:30 p.m. stabbing, which appears to be corroborated by footage from a surveillance camera on Windward Avenue. Preciado suffered multiple stab wounds and died at a local hospital.
The three murder suspects are described as Latino and were last seen fleeing east on Windward in a dark-colored SUV, according to the LAPD. Investigators later found a vehicle matching that description on Milwood Avenue in Oakwood, about a mile away from the crime scene.
“Anyone who met Jasmine felt the light and the love she carried. She deserves justice, and her daughter deserves to know that the judicial system does work,” said Ortiz, who has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover Preciado’s burial costs and benefit her daughter.
Preciado’s murder is the fourth this year in Venice.
Marvin Ponce, a 37-year-old father from out of the area, was shot to death on Aug. 3 while working at a residential construction site near 7th and Brooks avenues in Oakwood. His killer remains at large. In July, an elderly woman was shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide by her husband on Palms Avenue. In January, 44-year-old Mark Gonzalez was shot and killed at 7th and Flower avenues in Oakwood.
LAPD Pacific Division Capt. Nicole Alberca was not available to discuss crime trends in Venice, but L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin said he has been in close contact with the department.
“As with any terrible tragedy in our neighborhood, I have faith that the Venice community will rally around the victim’s family and do what we can to help the LAPD solve this shocking stabbing,” he said.
In the context of skyrocketing real estate values and a tech-industry boom, the evolving character of Venice is a hot topic of discussion for longtime locals and newcomers alike. Public safety is also a cornerstone of that discussion.
“Anytime you have a violent crime like this it’s a black eye on the community,” said Nick Antonicello, head of a neighborhood council committee weighing the possibility of Venice becoming a self-governing municipality. “I think locals are worried more about crime and public safety than tourists are, and I think that’s why you see the boardwalk essentially close down at sundown.”
Venice commercial property owners recently voted to launch a business improvement district that is expected to fund increased security patrols on the boardwalk starting next year.
“Crime is a critical issue,” said Venice Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Donna Lasman. “We have some businesses that are thinking of leaving because they think the boardwalk is unsafe.”
Others spoke of increasing friction between long-established blue-collar residents and more affluent newcomers — wealth and poverty rubbing up against each other in potentially volatile ways.
“Stuff happens here. It’s still dangerous,” said prominent Venice artist Laddie John Dill, a local since the turbulent early 1970s who isn’t convinced that the proliferation of new expensive homes and high-end businesses has made Venice a safe place.
“It’s not Brentwood. People like to forget that,” said artist MB Boissonnault, who moved to Oakwood in 1999. Many newcomers “just ignore all the socioeconomic implications of paying for a $4-million, $6-million house next to a Section 8,” she said. “You have a bunch of people protecting themselves with all their wealth, so it doesn’t make for a community. They go behind their fences and we never see them.”
Simon Mellor, who fought off an armed robber at his market on Lincoln Boulevard just 90 minutes before Preciado’s murder (see ‘Basically, I Had to Act,’ page 9), made similar observations about people walling themselves off from each other.
“A lot of upscale people building upscale houses, and they’re not any safer just because they’re moving into a hip environment,” he said. “When I wave
to them and they don’t wave back, that’s not a neighbor.”
Ortiz said she and Preciado were priced out of Venice when the building they lived in was cleared out to make way for renovations that brought in higher-paying tenants.
“I walk around my old neighborhood and don’t recognize a single soul,” she said.
Anyone with information about Preciado’s murder is asked to call LAPD West Bureau Homicide Detectives at (213) 382-9470. Visit gofundme.com/JPreciado to learn more about fundraising efforts for Preciado’s burial and daughter.