An employee at a luxury apartment complex near the beach told police she allowed a homeless man inside the building who later broke open the door to a sixth floor tenant’s apartment, according a Santa Monica Police Department report obtained by the Daily Press.
The 90-year-old tenant, Florence Kaufman, was asleep inside her bedroom during the Jan. 13 incident. Neighbors believe the victim at The Shores was so terrified after the incident that it contributed to her death a few days later. The intruder, Anthony Max Aikin, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vandalism charge and was likely released from jail the same day as the victim’s funeral, according to the City Attorney’s office.
The 31-year-old man told police a security guard let him in through the back door of the lobby at The Shores after he jumped the fence to get on the property. The guard, Kerrilyn Martinez, confirmed his story to police.
“Martinez stated the southern doors are locked, but, she believed the suspect was possibly a resident of the apartment (building). For this reason, Martinez allowed the suspect to enter the building even though he did not have a key. Once the suspect entered the building, Martinez observed him walk towards the elevators,” said the report by Detective B. Wilkening.
Aikin was arrested soon after the victim’s neighbor, Mike McCowan, heard him breaking her door and scared him off. McCowan, a former police officer, reached for one of his guns to defend himself but was out of bullets. The 84-year-old carried a golf club into the hallway instead and Aikin took off. McCowan called police, warning Aikin was acting erratically.
Detective Wilkening found the intruder still wandering the grounds and arrested him. Aikin told police he was looking for a friend he had met on the beach who also lives on the sixth floor of The Shores. The report says Aikin has an extensive criminal history of trespassing, assault and vandalism.
“Aikin said he was sorry for breaking Kaufman’s door and scaring her,” Wilkening wrote. “Aikin said he thought he heard voices inside and someone yelling for help. Aikin said he kicked down the door to check on the occupants and to help.”
Officers initially booked Aikin on residential burglary charges. However, nothing was stolen from Kaufman’s apartment. Instead, her neighbor says the real damage was psychological.
“He killed a woman,” McCowan said. The retired police officer and former defense attorney said Kaufman repeatedly thanked him for saving her life but was extremely distressed over the break-in. Her family held a funeral for the widow Thursday.
Pictures taken by police show the door handle ripped off Kaufman’s open front door. It’s not clear from the report whether Aikin used a tool or his bare hands.
“The hole in the door was large enough for a human to reach through the door and unlock it from the inside,” Wilkening wrote. Aikin received a 30 day jail sentence and two years probation for the vandalism charge but inmates rarely serve their entire sentences because of overcrowding. Because he is homeless, he could not be reached for comment.
McCowan disagreed with the report’s description of security at The Shores. He says there are no “guards,” only 24/7 concierge service.
“We don’t have anybody to protect us,” McCowan said, who has restocked on ammunition for his firearms after the incident. “I have bullets for my guns now.”
Tenants say they are trying to set up a meeting with management at The Shores to improve security. Requests by the Daily Press to speak to management at Douglas Emmett, the real estate investment company that owns The Shores, have not been returned.
Multiple residents tell the Daily Press trespassing is a major issue at the luxury apartment complex.
“Our security issues are on a ‘wish list’ and that infuriates me,” said Kaysie Kent who is the secretary of the Shore’s resident association. “That’s our number one issue. People have moved out because they do not feel safe.”
With stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island on a clear day new tenants are paying among the highest rents in Santa Monica. A two-bedroom, two bath apartment is currently listed for $6,126 a month on the website for Douglas Emmett.