Homeless Cite Increase in Violence

At a time when Santa Barbara City Hall is under political pressure to tighten laws against panhandling, advocates for the homeless claim there’s an alarming increase in incidents of violence directed against homeless people. At least three homeless men claimed they were attacked by gang members. One victim required 29 stitches over his right eye; another had his cheek fractured and broke his hand in three places fighting back. One of the victims claimed that his assailants shouted gang slogans from their car before launching the attack. Police spokesperson Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte said no detectives involved with crimes against persons or youth activities had heard of gang-on-homeless violence. Additionally, a homeless man in a wheelchair and missing his prosthetic leg, Allan McKibben, was found dead by the train station three weeks ago-bringing to 15 the total number of street people to die this year. Advocates believe the circumstances of McKibben’s death may have indicated foul play. McKibben’s face had scratches, his tongue had been severely bitten, and he had injuries to his collarbone and spine. Police say McKibben’s death is not regarded as suspicious. Officials with the coroner’s office indicated many of McKibben’s injuries had been sustained well before his demise. Advocates are also alarmed about a homeless man camping along the side of the freeway by Milpas Street who sustained burns over 60 percent of his body after his sleeping bag caught fire about two weeks ago. Though the fire could prove to be accidental, police are terming the circumstances of the fire suspicious. The victim was transported to a burn center in Sherman Oaks.

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