Los Angeles City Council candidate Ruth Galanter was brutally assaulted in her Venice home early this morning. She was taken to UCLA Medical Center in critical condition with stab wounds in her neck.
A spokeswoman for UCLA Medical Center said Galanter went into surgery shortly after 11 a.m. under the direction of a medical team consisting of vascular, trauma, head and neck surgeons. The surgery was expected to last into the afternoon. Before surgery, an angiogram was performed to evaluate damage to blood vessels.
A Los Angeles Police Department official in charge of the investigation said that an unidentified assailant entered Galanter's two-bedroom house in the 2200 block of Louella Ave. through a screen wndow in a backdoor. It was the same screen that had been tampered with in an attempted burglary Monday, said the policeman, Lt. Ed Henderson who heads the department's major crimes unit.
Neighbors of Galanter called police after hearing screams and a burglar alarm.
The 46-year-old Galanter, an urban planning consultant and a newcomer to politics, recently emerged as a champion of the city's burgeoning anti-growth movement. In a surprising show of strength in the 6th District race, Galanter just three weeks ago won the right to face City Council President Pat Russell in a June 2nd runoff. The campaign focused on Russell's reputation for allowing massive commercial development.
Viewed as Referendum
Although the race is confined to the far western 6th district, it was widely viewed as a referendum on citywide issues of growth, congestion and pollution that have come to dominate local politics.
Henderson said that said that police found Galanter in a pool of blood amid signs of struggle in her bedroom. He said police were able to talk to her briefly at her house and at the hospital.
"There was a lot of blood on the bed," he said.
Henderson said police had no suspects, and that there were no signs that the house had been ransacked or that anything had been taken. However, Commander Bill Wedgeworth, who heads the department's West Bureau, said there was a vehicle involved in the crime, but he would not give a description or say how it was involved.
Belinda Horne, a neighbor who lives on the same block of Louella, said that neighbors nearer Galanter heard screams about 4:45 Wednesday morning and went to the house to see if Galanter was all right. Horne said the neighbors heard cries for help after knocking on the front door.
Bob Harkey, who runs an advertising business from his house on the block, said he was working through the night and heard an alarm.
Signs of Gang Activity
Harkey said that the well-kept neighborhood of modest single family homes has been a quiet place with no serious crime problems during the five years he has known it.
But other neighbors said there had been signs of gang activity in the neighborhood, including grafitti on a wall bordering Galanter's property and on her garage.
Horne said a number of homes had been burglarized, and that a neighborhood watch had been organized recently to focus on the crime problem. She said that Galanter had been the most vocal organizer of the watch and that a meeting of concerned neighbors had been scheduled for her house Thursday.
Jim Bickhart, Galanter's press secretary, said he had accompanied Galanter to her house about 10 p.m. Tuesday after attending a fundraiser with her. Bickhart said he stayed at her house until about 11.
If Galanter is unable to continue in the race, the City Charter will permit the candidate with the next highest vote total in last month's primary to take her place in the June runoff. That candidate was Patrick McCartney, who received 16.7% of the votes and who since the primary has been serving as a policy adviser to Galanter.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Bradley said "I am shocked and saddened by the brutal and senseless act of violence against 6th District candidate Ruth Galanter. Our hearts go out to Ruth, to members of her family, her friends and supporters. On behalf of the people of Los Angeles, I send our prayers and best wishes for her swift recovery. The City of Los Angeles will do everything within its power to see that her attacker is apprehended and brought to justice."
Reached Wednesday morning at her home, Russell said "God, how shocking."
In a statement released later, Russell said "I pray for her full recovery. My heart goes out to her family, and I offer my services in any way that may be helpful."
Russell also said she sought police protection for Galanter while she is in the hospital because "it is an unknown assailant and she's in the hospital and she is vulnerable."
Russell said she was suspending her campaign activity.