Crime & Justice

Fatal stabbing in the heart of Hollywood should not keep visitors away (Update)

Only a few days after a fatal stabbing near Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, tourists are still flocking to the popular tourist area.
Only a few days after a fatal stabbing near Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, tourists are still flocking to the popular tourist area.

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UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: The three suspects have all pleaded not guilty to the felony charges in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Bailiffs said they had trouble getting alleged stabber Dustin James Kinnear to court because he was uncooperative. The 26-year-old Kinnear, a hulking man with long red hair, was calm in court wearing a yellow jail shirt indicating psychological problems.

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti said the police presence would be increased along Hollywood Boulevard in response to the stabbing.

PREVIOUSLY: The suspects in the stabbing death of a 23-year-old woman in Hollywood are due to be arraigned Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court on various felony charges.

Dustin Kinnear, 27, has been charged with murder; Jason Wolstone, 33, has been charged with assault; and Brian Widdows, 34, faces a charge of accessory after the fact to a crime in the slaying of Christina Calderon.

They are accused of stabbing the 23-year-old to death near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue – in the heart of the area's Walk of Fame – after she and a friend took photos of the three men and their signs, according to the LAPD.

Kinnear is accused of fatally stabbing Calderon after she refused to give the trio $1, police have said.

But only a few days after Tuesday's attack, it seems to be business as usual for the tourist mecca.

Across the street from where Calderon died is the L.A. City Tours office. Employee Alex Cook, who was born and raised in Hollywood, said the stabbing was an isolated event. He doesn’t expect it to deter tourists.

“There’ll be headline stories for a day or two and then eventually everyone kind of buries it and doesn’t speak about it," said Cook.

The tour operator has seen the three suspects hanging out in the area for the last few months. He said that they're normally pretty quiet, letting their signs — that ask for money and contain expletives — do the talking. Cook also said he has seen an increasing amount of friction between transients asking for money and costumed characters performing for tips. 

“It’s definitely a territorial thing. It definitely exists out here," said Cook. "And I think it’s more seasonal. I think now that summer’s coming around and as there’s an increase in tourism, you’re going to have an increase in people panhandling and peddling for money.”

Last year, Los Angeles had 41 million visitors – many of whom were drawn to the gold stars and bright lights of Hollywood. And USC marketing professor Ira Kalb said it will take more than a single stabbing to keep people away.

“I don’t think it's really going to affect it in the long run because Hollywood is this major draw thanks to the movie and TV industry and this whole concept and brand image of Hollywood," said Kalb. "I think it kind of gives Hollywood a Teflon coating if you know what I mean. Where these things bounce off if they’re just isolated incidents.”

Kalb said it would take a series of repeated, violent events like the stabbing to really hamper Hollywood tourism. Otherwise, individual events get lost in the shuffle of living in a large city. 

"Unfortunately there's a lot of incidents like this in big cities and especially Hollywood that has a kind of a transient reputation," said Kalb.