Lisa Ramirez was the heart and soul of the Flower Street Lofts.
Every day, she would travel in the from her home in Pico Rivera to keep the sprawling loft complex — a former UPS distribution center — clean.
She struggled for years with learning disabilities, her family said, and she prized the groundskeeping job. At 32, she was about to get married and was excited about the future.
“She loved life. She loved to laugh. She would call and tell me about the beautiful view and people she helped every day,” says her mother, Virginia Ramirez. “Lisa, she had accomplished so much.”
Then on Tuesday, Ramirez was working in the open-air courtyard of the complex, located across from Staples Center and LA Live, when one of the tenants, Michael Rogers, ushered her into his unit, police said.
What exactly was said isn’t known.
But security cameras captured Ramirez following Rogers out of the courtyard, her mother said an investigator told her. A few minutes later, Rogers dragged Ramirez into his apartment.
Minutes later, Ramirez was dead of an apparent stab wound. Her body was found in Rogers’ apartment after he was shot and killed by Los Angeles police officers on a nearby street.
The violence has stunned residents in the Flower Street Lofts as well as the larger South Park neighborhood of downtown, a fast-growing, fast-gentrifying area around Staples Center.
Police are still trying to determine a motive for the attack on Ramirez and are looking into the background of Rogers, 32, said Capt. Andrew Neiman.
According to court records. Rogers in 2013 was convicted of domestic violence in two separate incidents involving partners. He received 45 days in jail for one and a year for the other plus five years’ probation. In 2015, he was arrested again for alleged domestic abuse of a girlfriend. That case was still pending.
Authorities allege that moments after killing Ramirez, Rogers walked out of the lofts and across the street to a high-rise residential tower where he made his way to an upper floor and tried to gain access to a balcony in an apparent effort to commit suicide by jumping off.
Police say building security kicked him out.
Witnesses told police afterward that Rogers then wandered into an exercise studio carrying a large kitchen knife, frightening class attendees and instructors.
Shortly after 5 p.m., after being waved down by an L.A. City Department of Transportation officer, two LAPD traffic officers confronted the knife-wielding Rogers on Hope Street between 11th and 12th streets. Rogers lunged at them with his weapon and they opened fire, they said, and Rogers fell in the middle of the street.
A neighbor in an apartment captured the moment on a phone camera from a second-floor window. Rogers was declared dead at a hospital, according to Neiman.
Several minutes later, Rogers’ girlfriend discovered Ramirez’s body in their apartment.
Ramirez’s family is left struggling to understand how she could lose her life doing what she loved.
“It was a nice safe place. When Lisa accepted the job was overjoyed,” recalled her mother. “You just don’t know anymore …. Who would want to harm Lisa?”