By Christopher Weber, The Associated Press

A Black member of Congress on Wednesday called it “incomprehensible” that after the overdose deaths of two African-American men at the apartment of wealthy and influential Los Angeles area gay activist Edward Buck, a third man nearly died there before authorities arrested Buck.

The men died in 2017 and early 2019 but Buck skirted charges until prosecutors announced his arrest late Sept. 17 after the latest overdose victim escaped Buck’s West Hollywood home despite what officials called efforts by Buck to prevent him from leaving.

Edward Buck appears in Los Angeles Superior Court, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. The prominent LGBTQ political activist was arrested on Tuesday and charged with operating a drug house and providing methamphetamine to a 37-year-old man who overdosed on Sept. 11, but survived, officials said. Two other men have died in his apartment since 2017. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

“It’s incomprehensible to me that it took a third Black gay man to be attacked and almost die to finally dissolve the unconscionable apathy that has allowed Ed Buck, a racist sexual predator, to roam free,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, whose district lies just south of West Hollywood.  “Everyone knew that he preyed on young Black men. … The inaction in response had a message was loud and clear: Black gay lives obviously didn’t matter.”

In court documents, authorities said Buck used his position of power to manipulate male victims into participating in sexual fetishes that involved injecting them with methamphetamine, adding that he “has no regard for human life.”

Buck was charged with operating a drug house, furnishing methamphetamine and with battery causing serious bodily injury. He was awaiting arraignment. Messages to his attorney, Seymour Amster, were not immediately returned.

Buck, 65, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to California candidates, including Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, and is well known in LGBTQ political circles.

Buck remained in custody Sept. 18 and prosecutors argued in court documents that he should be held on $4 million bail because he is a “violent, dangerous sexual predator” who offered drugs, money and shelter to mainly addicted and homeless men in exchange for participating in sexual fetishes. One fetish involved administering dangerous doses of drugs, the documents said.

Buck came under investigation in January after 55-year-old Timothy Dean was found dead of an accidental methamphetamine overdose in his apartment. In July 2017, Gemmel Moore, 26, also died from a methamphetamine overdose at Buck’s home.

Both men were Black. Buck, who is White, was not charged and critics later questioned if wealth, race or political ties influenced the investigation.

Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, “is relieved that Ed Buck is no longer on the streets and free to continue harming Black men,” her lawyer, Hussain Turk, said Sept. 18.

“She is also disappointed that the county’s criminal charges against Ed Buck do not include charges for homicide,” Turk said.

The investigation into the deaths continues, county district attorney’s spokesman Greg Risling said.

Buck’s attorney, Amster, had said Dean came to Buck’s home under the influence and did not ingest any drugs while there.

But prosecutors in court documents blamed Buck’s actions for the two deaths and alleged he personally gave a dangerous dose of methamphetamine to an unnamed man who survived an overdose earlier this month.

On Sept. 11, the man returned and Buck injected him with two more dangerous doses, refused to help him and “thwarted” his efforts to get help until the man fled the apartment and called 911 from a gas station, prosecutors alleged.

“His deadly behavior has not stopped,” prosecutors said in the court documents.

Buck’s “predatory acts and willful disregard for human life must be stopped before another life is lost,” the documents said.