Spokane man attacked near homeless encampment, urging police and the City to crack down

SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane man says he was punched and kicked minutes after he walked past a homeless camp on Monday night. He wants the police department and the City of Spokane to crack down on encampments.

The man reached out to 4 News Now about what happened. He said he was walking on the Centennial Trail near Riverton and Altamont around 4 p.m. It’s something he’s done for a long time.

As he was on the trail, he said he noticed a man who appeared to be giving someone drugs.

“I was walking along and he looked at me and said, ‘What are you looking at?,'” the victim said, who wanted to remain anonymous. “At that point, the conversation ensued and I basically said it’s snowing and it’s cold. Why don’t you guys go to a homeless shelter? I was trying to be helpful.”

The situation escalated. He said the man started following him, then a fight started.

“I put my hands up, my palms up and say hey, calm down,” he explained. “We’re not going to do this, and then the next thing I know I’m on the ground.”

He said he was punched in the head, knocking him to the ground. He said the attacker also kicked him.

“I’m gonna fight or I’m gonna flight and I decided to flight because I had to get out of there,” the victim said. “I got up, then it started to sink in that this guy could really hurt me, and I had the fear of terror at that point.”

He started running, and said the attacker chased him. The victim made his way up a flight of stairs and ran to a nearby nursing home to call 911. The man went the other direction. Spokane Police responded to the area, but didn’t find the attacker.

This attack left the victim in disbelief. He’s also angry about the state of the scenic trail.

“The trash and the garbage and the human excrement that you can smell down there is hard to ignore,” he said. “They’re not invisible and they’re ruining our environment and they’re ruining our city.”

Police say they do have Neighborhood Resource Officers that go out to reported encampments.

“We work with them to give them options they may not be aware of, what resources are available and we give them sufficient amount of time to pack up their belongings and move to some of those services,” said Officer John O’Brien with Spokane Police.

The officer says they work with the City of Spokane to combat this issue. Officers are apart of pods, a team consisting of city workers and police officers to help with situations like this. However, the city isn’t currently sending out its workers apart of the team,

“At this time, the work of our POD team with SPD is suspended due to COVID-19, however Code Enforcement staff and the litter crew are still scouting as many of these active reports as possible, including spot cleanup of solid waste when the crew is able,” said Kirstin Davis, a spokesperson with the City of Spokane. “The team is still communicating updates to outreach partners who work in homeless services.”

The man attacked says he wants the people in the camps to clean up the area, while being supervised by officers. If this doesn’t happen, he wants them taken to jail.

“It’s dangerous because of the City’s permissiveness in allowing overnight camping in there, homeless camping,” the victim said.

The 30-year Spokane resident said he won’t walk the trail anymore.

O’Brien said they will be on the look out for the attacker.

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