Of the hundreds of homeless people existing in and around The City of Santa Barbara, a few are mini-celebrities, affectionately known to service providers and police for their longevity, colorful personalities, or the reams of open-container citations they’ve racked up over the years. For Gator and Shakey, the inseparable buddies each from Louisiana, it was all of the above.
But on Saturday morning, January 22nd, Gator awakened to find Shakey dead in his sleeping bag; astonishingly the 5th homeless person to die since January 1st. Now, the notoriety they shared is fueling a surge of sympathy for Gator.
Sitting in his wheelchair adjacent to the Pershing Park band shell on Monday, drinking, appropriately enough, Gatorade, 44-year-old Gator looked beaten. He was not drunk.
“He came into camp happy about 3:30 or 4 in the morning [Saturday],” said Gator of his friend’s last hours. “When I woke up, he was [gone] … I think his pancreas went out on him because I’ve had to call 911 on him a couple of times.” To read more, see homelessinsb.org.