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"Nightmare Neighbor" Poses Risk to Law Enforcement, Court Records Show
By Jorge Casuso
May 16, 2019 -- May 16, 2019 -- His rants and threats in the hallway of an old Santa Monica apartment building have earned him the nickname "the nightmare neighbor."
His name is Mark Yaskoweak and according to court records obtained by The Lookout he "has been under investigation with federal authorities for domestic terrorist threats."
Standing 6'4' and weighing more than 300 pounds, Yaskoweak has intimidated law enforcement officers who have staged several efforts to evict him and frightened other tenants in the Community Corporation building on the beach south of the Pier.
Tenants in the affordable housing building at 3 Vicente Terrace have caught him on video on the rare occasions he leaves his room to yell obscenities and retrieve the food delivered in boxes to his door.
They have also videotaped LA County Sheriff's deputies and Santa Monica Police who have come to his door, where the peephole has been taped over and part of the room number rubbed out.
“He jumps out of his room and starts terrorizing us," his next door neighbor, Betty Oliver, told CBSLA in a March 26 report. "He tells us he’s going to kill us. He tells us that he’s gonna rape us."
One cell-phone video shows Santa Monica police officers -- who routinely respond to calls at the building -- being threatened by Yaskoweak.
“I will be shooting to kill these terrorists, and you cannot overestimate," he yells through the door. "Have a nice day!”
A follow-up report -- which shows Yaskoweak continuing to make threats -- aired this week .
But despite the legal, law enforcement and media efforts, Yaskoweak remains in place leaving his neighbors feeling helpless and exposed.
The records obtained by The Lookout that were filed in Superior Court by Community Corporation over the last five months outline the legal and law enforcement efforts to remove Yaskoweak from his unit.
LEGAL EFFORTS COMMENCE
In October 2018, the Santa Monica Rent Control Board received a copy of the warning letter Community Corporation sent Yaskoweak, a Section 8 tenant, said the Board's spokesman Daniel Costello.
The letter from the City's affordable housing provider warned Yaskoweak that his behavior had continued after written notice and that it was creating "substantial interference with the comfort, safety and enjoyment" of the other tenants.
On November 5, Community Corporation filed an unlawful detainer in Los Angeles Superior Court based on Yaskoweak's "failure to pay rent or vacate," according to court records.
The summons and complaint were personally served on November 8, but the defendant did not file an answer.
On December 5, Community Corporation filed for a writ of possession to remove Yaskoweak from the unit. The writ was issued that day and dropped off with the Sheriff's office in the Santa Monica Courthouse.
On January 8 it was posted on the property. A lockout date was scheduled for January 16.
"On that date the Defendant refused to open his door and made threats of physical violence against the deputies if they attempted to breach the door," according to the plaintiff's statement of facts.
Sheriff's Deputy Chris Jordan, a 24-year veteran of the force, then consulted with Santa Monica Police "who were well aware of the Defendant."
Yaskoweak was known to police to be "a violent resident who threatens his neighbors and was under investigation with federal authorities for domestic terrorist threats," according to the plaintiff's statement.
"The FBI was potentially looking into that," Jordan said SMPD told him. "I am not aware of any further progress made with the federal investigation."
In a declaration to the court, Jordan, who has conducted lockouts for 13 years, said he realized Yaskoweak's lockout would be more "complicated" than usual.
Jordan ran a physical description that "indicated he was approximately 6'4 and weighed approximately 300 lbs.
"Since then I have seen video of the Defendant and observe his weight to be close to 350 lbs," he said. "His physical stature is imposing."
A background check, Jordan said, "did not indicate he owned any firearms."
Sheriff's and police then worked together, along with the Department of Mental Health, to schedule another lockout. This time, a warrant for Yaskoweak's arrest would be executed.
LAW ENFORCEMENT TRIES ITS HAND
The sheriffs notified Community Corporation that a new lockout would take place in early February but it was canceled "due to SMPD's reluctance to engage physically with the Defendant."
According to Jordan's declaration, SMPD had downgraded their warrant from a felony to a misdemeanor.
"I learned that this was done so that LASD would be forced to breach the premises on their own and that SMPD would not be given authority to breach the door under the auspices of a misdemeanor warrant."
Jordan said he continued to seek cooperation from Santa Monica police "but they have not assisted any further."
The deputy then informed Community Corporation's attorneys that the lockout "would be scheduled with a large force of LASD deputies and members of the Department of Mental Health."
According to his declaration, Jordan assembled "approximately ten deputies in tactical gear as back up" and arranged to have a mental health worker present "to assist in keeping the defendant under control.
"The deputies understood that the defendant would not leave without a physical confrontation," Jordan said.
At the lockout at 6 a.m. February 21, Yaskoweak "threatened the LASD deputies with physical force and could be heard banging what sounded like a metal pipe against the door."
"I believed that he would use that metal object as a weapon against the deputies" and posed the risk of "substantial harm" to the female mental health worker.
Jordan was instructed by his supervisors "to stand down and seek further orders from the court due to the imminent threat posed."
He was also instructed to create an operation plan that included "surveillance of the defendant to confirm his hours of coming and going."
"HE DOES NOT LEAVE THE BUILDING WHATSOEVER"
Based on the observations of Jordan and deputies who assisted, "the Defendant does not leave the unit except to pick up packages of food deliveries," Jordan concluded.
"It is my belief," he said, "he does not leave the building whatsoever."
On February 26, the sheriff's obtained an order from the court to "use the least restrictive means possible" and ensure they used "reasonable non-lethal force."
On April 3, the court rescinded that order, and Community Corporation requested that a new order be issued.
According to the plaintiffs, "The Defendant's conduct has continued and escalated even further to the point of receiving media attention as well as almost daily police response."
On April 15, Community Corporation requested a special order to execute a lockout "using force that is reasonable and necessary."
That order was withdrawn at the plaintiff's request.
In his declaration Jordan said he had attempted on or about the week of April 1 to serve a restraining order but Yaskoweak "refused to even answer the door.
"I believe that the Defendant will not leave voluntarily and will not go down without a fight," Jordan said.
"I believe that executing this lockout will involve substantial risk of death and/or serious bodily harm to any person in the vicinity."
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