Saturday, July 4, 2020
Home News A Stabbing in San Pedro

A Stabbing in San Pedro

Swift justice in brutal, tragic murder of local resident Jason Hodges

By Adam R. Thomas, Editorial Intern

Perhaps you’ve seen it over the past week. Driving into San Pedro on the 110 Freeway, a banner fluttering on a fence facing the southbound lanes greeting all who drive into the city. One with a simple message emblazoned on it: “Rest in Peace Suave.”

“Suave,” in this case, was the nickname and handle to one Jason Elliot Hodges. Hodges was born, raised, and unfortunately saw his life ended in San Pedro last week when he was stabbed to death at the age of 41, in a series of events both tragic and all too common. He was a well-known figure in the San Pedro bar scene, on basketball courts at local parks, and among the tagging community as a friendly, outgoing figure albeit with a recently troubled personal history.

“I just . . . we lost a good friend,” said Arrin Burruss, a close childhood friend of Hodges when asked about his death by Random Lengths News. “Everyone knew him. He was a good guy. He was a basketball star in high school. The person who did this, I hope he spends the rest of his life behind bars.”

On March 11 shortly before 10 p.m., Hodges entered into a literal back-alley gambling parlor at 719 S. Pacific Ave. in the alley behind the Pacific Food and Beverage Museum and George’s Barbershop. Described as “an illegal internet café” by Detective Jeffrey Tiffin with the Los Angeles Harbor Division Police Department, the parlor operated a series of computers that ran unlicensed gaming activities for patrons.

According to eyewitnesses interviewed by police, a man named Joseph Jamall Center, also known as “Black Joe,” had been sitting and waiting in the parlor for several hours. Center had been there since the business opened around midday, neither drinking nor interacting with anyone, and was described by observers as behaving “weird” and keeping to himself.

When Hodges arrived, witnesses told police that Center approached him from behind, grabbing him with one arm round Hodges’ neck, and then stabbing Hodges repeatedly with a knife in his other hand before fleeing the premises.

Witnesses describe a panicked scene that followed, with some of the roughly half a dozen people in the parlor leaving the area, while others tried to attend to Hodges. A witness whose name is withheld at the request of Harbor Division Police Department due to potential testimony in any upcoming trial, told police that Center returned to retrieve the knife and had to be chased away.

In the panicked minutes that followed, two women attempted to get Hodge’s vehicle while the parlor’s proprietors lifted the 6’5”, 220-pound Hodges up the steps of the basement-based parlor into the alley. It took several minutes for the women to return with Hodge’s vehicle, place Hodges into the back seat, and then drive to Providence Little Company of Mary hospital. At this point, no one had called emergency services.

Unfortunately, Hodge’s vehicle stalled out on 6th Street behind Little Company of Mary’s. According to witness reports told to investigators, the women transporting Hodges to the hospital attempted to get the attention of the hospital employees but could neither bring the vehicle to the emergency entrance, nor would hospital employees leave the property without an official emergency call having been made due to policy.

By the time any medical help could reach Hodges in his vehicle, he had bled to death, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Center fled not only the scene of the crime, but San Pedro and LA County entirely. According to Tiffin, he was tracked to San Diego, where he was arrested on suspicion of murder March 15 by a joint LAPD and FBI task force and brought to the Harbor Division police station to be interviewed.

Asked about what Center’s motive may have been, Tiffin told Random Lengths News that he couldn’t speak to what was learned during the interview due to its relevance in upcoming court proceedings, though he did indicate that it seemed “disproportionate” with whatever offense Hodges might have given Center.

“The only thing I will say is that it was due to an ongoing dispute,” said Tiffin. “We interviewed him. I can’t go into specific details about that, but even by then, by interviewing witnesses we had enough [to file charges]. Between the two there was no drugs or stuff involved, no prison beef, anything like that.”

On March 18, Center was charged for the murder of Jason Hodges and potentially faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility for parole if convicted. Center’s next date in court is March 27 at Long Beach Superior Court.

Friends of Hodges interviewed by Random Lengths News had nothing but kind things to say and couldn’t contain their grief over Hodge’s death.

“He was dearly loved and will always be in our hearts,” said Yesenia Aguilar, the College Bound director at the Boys and Girls club, who said she grew up attending the club with Hodges. “He was like family. It hurts. You never understand why someone was murdered in the town they grew up in.”

Others interviewed indicated that Hodges had been suffering from drug and alcohol addiction issues, especially since his mother and last living direct relative, Judy, died this past year. Shortly after his mother’s death, Hodges was convicted of a felony for fleeing the scene of a crime, and spent much of 2018 at the Men’s Central Jail “Twin Towers” facility.

Despite something of a checkered past, nearly all those interviewed about Hodges spoke highly of him, saying he was a friendly and outgoing person and well liked amongst the community.

Hodges’ social media feed on Facebook is filled with generally upbeat, positive video messages addressed to “‘Dro City” residents about making it through the week and working hard to enjoy life as much as you can.

“This whole thing with Jason is all so shocking and horrible, horrible, horrible,” said Elke Freeman, who works for the Local 1309 Laborer’s Union, and grew up with Hodges. “I don’t know if this is going to trial, but I plan on being at every court date. It takes from your life as well. Because he was a part of your life.”

There is a memorial for Jason Hodges planned for March 30 at 11 a.m. at Bethany Christian Fellowship church on 792 W. 10th Street. Burruss, his family and Freeman are working with the church to arrange the service and ask that any donations made in Hodge’s name be directed to the church.

Speaking about both his friend and the rising crime rate in San Pedro, Burruss had the following to say:

We need to look out for each other better in San Pedro. That’s my third close friend that was murdered. Regardless of what color you are, we all went to the same elementary schools, the same junior highs and the same high schools. San Pedro is a good town and we need to look out for each other better than this.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I will always LOVE u and I will miss u tremendously HODGES…..

    I LOVE YOU
    ALWAYS,
    CARRIE MENDOZA BUTLER aka KAREBEAR

  2. Rest in peace our dear friend. God has got you now, i will never forget your kindness and your ability to love unconditionally like Jesus taught you to do. God had to take you home to do some serious prayer on your friends because no body had a heart like you but you did show us how you do and you left quite an impression on anyone who meets you. Your an angel now spread your wing n fly my brother.

    • J i go to my phone to call you so many times a day so i finally put your picture as my wallpaper, you wearing your pink shirt and pink shorts. Only you could pull that off. I listen to fat trel and cry wishing you were still here, i only knew you a few years so i feel cheated bcuz we didnt have much time, on the other hand i feel blessed that i was part of your life. Im Miss Camille Jasons dear friend he always said Miss Camille your such a little lady i was your little lady always n forever.

  3. You were a great friend, thank you and Tiere walking me home from school. You made jr high and high school a very interesting place.

  4. I knew this guy for 5 days and in that short of time he changed my life. I was just there at that casino with him the night before. I could tell he was well known and well liked. Wish I could have known him longer. Rest in peace my friend.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Popular

Center for the Study of Political Graphics

As part of CSPG's programming, Activist, Artists, and Sisters: Posters on Women Fighting for Justice, artist Ernesto Vazquez hosted a stencil workshop....

Governor Newsom Launches “Wear a Mask” Public Awareness Campaign in Response to Surge in COVID-19 Cases

The campaign is taking an aggressive approach to slowing the spread of COVID-19, which will save lives and allow the state to reopen the economy.

A Bridge Home Opening

A Bridge Home Openings announced.

LIBERTY HILL 4TH OF JULY

Phase out School Police

Recent Comments

Thomas "HOUSE" Houchens on Think: George Floyd
Eliath Mena on Think: George Floyd
Deidre Powell on Think: George Floyd
Marcia Ladymgirl on Think: George Floyd
Jennifer L on Think: George Floyd
Carlos Fisher on Think: George Floyd
Jose "cheMMa" Rodriguz on Think: George Floyd
Aniza Thomas on Think: George Floyd
David Seay on Think: George Floyd
Marc LJ on Think: George Floyd
andre edwards on Think: George Floyd
Terelle Jerricks on From Pop Culture to Cop Culture
Sharon Hislop on Think: George Floyd
Fetteroff on Think: George Floyd
Raul Acevedo Jr. on Think: George Floyd
Mel Grayson on Think: George Floyd
Terelle Jerricks on A Virtual World of Events 
Alice r. Knoop on Lung Health Tips for COVID-19
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Joshua E Chambers on Take me to Sardine
Chad Dorchester on Take me to Sardine
Terelle Jerricks on Change Won’t Be Televised
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Bob Kohler on About
Judie M Barker on About
Kim Kaufman on Staff
Kim Kaufman on Staff
Vivian Morales on From War to Lowrider
Robin Doyno on Staff
Publisher on About
Joe Stackhouse on Advertise
Marshariki Haylock on A Stabbing in San Pedro
CARRIE MENDOZA on A Stabbing in San Pedro
Martin Palmiere EMC(SW) ret. on Trouble on the Iowa
Martin A.Palmiere EMC(SW) USN(ret.) on Trouble on the Iowa
John H Winkler on Frequently Asked Questions
J. McVey on Staff
Malou Mariano on Tampering and Collusion
Terrell Williams on The New Gap Band Fills The Gap
Alton C . Thompson, Ph. D. on About
Harold Ericsson on Letters to the Editor
Hillbinkel on Trouble on the Iowa
Ian Gordon on KKJZ Leaves CSULB Campus
larry lebedin on KKJZ Leaves CSULB Campus
Joseph Bianco on Frequently Asked Questions
Deborah Steed on Zerby Family Finds Solace
Don Griffin on Rosenberg
Pete on About
Anne Marie Knudsen on Clem Pennington is the Whole Package
Terelle Jerricks on About
Lyn Jensen on Go Retro with Records
Steven R. Heldt on Fig Trees Are Like Democracies
Joanne Sims on Peacocks, Paseo, Politics
Dave Borst-Smith on Peacocks, Paseo, Politics
Charles Traupmann on The Buscaino Report:
james P. Allen on Across the Great Divide
Allyson Vought on Across the Great Divide
PBinLostAngeles on RL NEWS Roundups: June 14, 2016
davehall on Voter Guide
Chris formica Gringos Tacos on Food Truck Blues
Random Lengths News on Iowa Fever
Tinisha Rodrique on IMG_1761
polos fred perry on Less Than a Side Show
cheap soccer jersey on Less Than a Side Show
le mahjong gratuit on The Surrealness of Knives and Breast
Harry and the Gang on Sherlock Holmes at the LB Playhouse
neufert architect s data pdf on IMG_1761
sewing machine reviews on Annie at the Warner Grand