Bass Calls Break-In at Getty House `Frightening' Experience

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Photo: Charley Gallay / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Following a break-in at her official residence Sunday morning, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Wednesday called it a "frightening" experience that makes it "very clear" it is her job is to keep Angelenos safe.

Bass previously refrained from commenting specifically on the break- in, other than thanking Los Angeles Police Department who responded to her Getty House residence. But in an interview Wednesday with KNX News, Bass said that when anyone goes through such an experience, "you're worried about your safety, whether you're going to make it."

She said the city -- like municipalities across the country -- is experiencing a spike of "random violence," with people being attacked while they're just walking down the street.

"We go through these spikes and then it settles down a little bit, and then it comes back," Bass told KNX News. "I think it's a little unsettling world right now, and that's why I'm focused on doing everything we can to recruit officers, so that we have the adequate number of officers to manage the city, and we're going to continue to do that. We've been aggressively recruiting."

Bass noted she hasn't even seen a photograph of the man who broke into her home. But while she called the experience "frightening," she also affirmed that she feels safe at Getty House and hopes that the criminal case is resolved very soon. But she said she is continuing on with the city's business.

The break-in occurred around 6 a.m. Sunday at Getty House, the official mayor's residence at 605 S. Irving Blvd. in the Windsor Square neighborhood.

On Tuesday, Ephraim Matthew Hunter, 29, pleaded not guilty to one felony count each of first-degree residential burglary with a person present and vandalism causing damage of $400 or more, along with an allegation that he has a 2016 conviction for robbery from Massachusetts.

District Attorney George Gascón said Hunter faces up to 13 years and four months in prison if he is convicted as charged.

According to investigators, Hunter knew it was the mayor's home and specifically targeted her. A prosecutor said in court Tuesday that while he was in the home, Hunter called out the name of one of the residents.

Superior Court Judge Kimberley Baker Guillemet ordered Hunter to remain jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail while he awaits his next appearance in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom May 6, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial.

The judge also ordered the defendant to stay away from the home and its occupants.

Gascón said the suspect broke a glass door and entered the home while the mayor was inside with her daughter, son-in-law and recently born grandson. According to the district attorney, Hunter cut himself on the broken glass while entering the residence, and left blood stains throughout the home.

Police said the break-in triggered an alarm that alerted officers. Hunter was arrested at the scene without incident.

Citing unnamed law enforcement sources, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday that the burglar managed to reach the second floor of Getty House during the break-in, forcing Bass and her family to hide in a "safe area" of the home, similar to a "panic room." Gascón would not confirm that report.

Neither the mayor nor her family were injured.

Los Angeles Police Department Interim Chief Dominic Choi told reporters Tuesday that the break-in occurred during a shift change among security officers at the home, so there were no security personnel present at the time. But he said given the size of the Getty House property, even having a security officer there may not have prevented the break-in, which occurred through a back entrance of the home.

In 2015, Hunter was charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and assault and battery for allegedly joining three other people in attacking a man in Massachusetts. According to the Norfolk District Attorney's Office, the assailants attacked the victim with a hammer and a snow brush. Police found the victim unconscious and he was taken to a Boston hospital and survived his injuries.

Hunter and three other suspects were found in a van with a hammer, a shoe believed to belong to the victim, the victim's pants and some blood in the van's door area, according to the Norfolk District Attorney's Office.

According to court records, Hunter was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.

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