A video call on Zoom turned deadly Monday after a man entered his home and stabbed his mother and uncle in Southern California, authorities said
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, deputies responded to a call regarding a possible kidnapping at 2:45 p.m. in Altadena, California, about 15 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. When deputies arrived to the location, they found the body of a man in the driveway and a woman’s body inside the home.
Both victims had been stabbed several times, Deputy Tracy Koerner, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson, said in a news release.
A knife had been left at the scene, and one of the victims’ cars was missing, officers told the Pasadena Star-News. A man returned to the location driving the vehicle and identified himself as a resident of the home, Lt. Barry Hall told KTLA-TV.
The Star-News identified the victims as Carol Brown, 67, a staff member at Pasadena City College, and Kenneth Preston, 69. Brown was on a Zoom call with other college employees when Preston was attacked and dragged out of the room by the suspect, according to a police news release.
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The person of interest, Robert Cotton, 32, was detained and has since been booked for two counts of murder, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Police said that one of Brown’s colleagues witnessed the attack on both the man and the woman over Zoom. That witness called 911, authorities confirmed.
“The person that the lady was still talking to on the Zoom with when the male was dragged out of the house, that alerted her and the suspect went inside and attacked her,” Hall said to KTLA.
Brown’s death is a “terrible loss” to the Pasadena City College community, said President-Superintendent Erika Endrijonas in a Monday Facebook post.
“I am completely shocked and horrified by what has happened today,” she said.
Brown was a former student and current employee for nearly two decades at the community college outside LA, said the Star-News. Among other things, she helped establish a shelter for the college’s unhoused students, said Cynthia Olivo, vice president of student services, in a Facebook post.
“So many of us were blessed to work with her on these various efforts,” she wrote, saying that most recently, Brown was working in Black STEM programs at the college.
The killings are the latest to occur with Zoom witnesses after many Americans converted to Zoom conferences to account for the coronavirus pandemic.
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A Long Island man was stabbed to death by his adult son in May while on a Zoom video chat, police said, leading to 911 calls from people who watched the horror unfold on their screens.
Later, in August, a Florida man stormed into a house and fatally shot his ex-girlfriend as her 10-year-old daughter took an online class, with the girl’s teacher and other students hearing part of the commotion before the slaying, authorities said.
Contributing: The Associated Press