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Report: Suspect in break-in at home of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass says he was on drugs, not targeting the mayor

By Cheri Mossburg, CNN

(CNN) — The man charged with burglary in connection with a break-in at Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ official residence last month has told a local radio station he was on a drug binge at the time and was not targeting the public official.

Ephraim Matthew Hunter, 29, faces felony counts of burglary and vandalism after allegedly smashing a rear glass door at the mayor’s home, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. But in an interview with KNX News published Monday, Hunter said he had been on a multi-day drug binge and wasn’t targeting the mayor, but was running from someone he thought had been chasing him.

When charges were filed against Hunter in April, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said officials believed “he was targeting the mayor” but did not offer a potential motive. “There were actions while he was inside the property that are consistent with the fact that he knew that this was the mayor’s home and that he was looking for her,” the district attorney said.

A criminal complaint alleges Hunter entered the home “with the intent to commit larceny and any felony.”

Hunter’s attorney, Howard Stern, told CNN in an email on Tuesday: “The DA’s Office has this case wrong.”

When asked to elaborate on Gascón’s comments and provide an update on the investigation on Tuesday, the district attorney’s office said they could not provide information regarding evidence in the case since the investigation is ongoing.

A Los Angeles Police Department source described as “a high-ranking official,” told the Los Angeles Times: “I don’t know why Gascón said what he said, he must be privy to something our investigators are not privy to.”

The newspaper also spoke with another law enforcement source who said responding officers believed Hunter was under the influence of methamphetamine.

Shortly after Hunter was charged, a woman identifying herself as his mother told the LA Times he didn’t know whose home he had entered.

“He didn’t know that at all,” Josephine Duah told the newspaper. “He just was running… he thought somebody was chasing him and he hopped some fences, and he went in the house… I’m wondering if mentally he was relieved if he saw police.”

The LA Times, citing three law enforcement sources, reported the suspect shouted the mayor’s first name during the break in.

Hunter told KNX News if he shouted anyone’s name it may have been that of his brother Aaron, but not “Karen.”

When reached by phone by CNN, the brother declined to discuss Hunter’s case.

The break-in happened on the morning of April 21, during the security officers’ morning shift change when there was a “short gap” of time when an officer was not on the property, Los Angeles Police Chief Dominic Choi said Tuesday. Police have remedied the scheduling gap with an overlap in shifts, he said.

Hunter is accused of entering the home by smashing a rear glass door, causing somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of damage, the district attorney’s office has said. His hand was cut during the ordeal, leaving “blood stains throughout the house,” the office said.

No one in Bass’s family was harmed, a spokesperson for the Democratic mayor said. The mayor’s official residence, the Getty House, is a nondescript Tudor-style home that sits on a corner in the Windsor Square neighborhood and fits seamlessly into its lineup of historic mansions.

If convicted of the charges, Hunter could receive a prison sentence of up to 13 years and four months.

In 2016, Hunter was convicted of armed robbery in Massachusetts, according to the criminal complaint.

CNN’s Cindy Von Quednow and Elizabeth Wolfe contributed to this report.

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