[Hpn] Denver homeless deaths
Wed, 27 Sep 2000 08:11:12 -0400
01:36 AM ET 09/27/00
Colo. Deals With Homeless Attacks
By COLLEEN SLEVIN
Associated Press Write
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) Blue Baymen has taken to lying
underneath a sleeping bag, not inside, in case he must defend
himself through the night.
Dan Teague moved in with a friend. And a third drifter, Mike
Culle, curbs his drinking so he is alert enough to fend off
The homeless in here are taking extra precautions after one man
living on the street was killed this month and two others were
badly beaten in separate attacks.
``They'll find someone else if they know you mean business,''
said Culle, 40, a recent transplant from Titusville, Fla.
Police believe a band of teens armed with rocks, knives and
other weapons are behind the three attacks.
The victims could not identify their assailants because they
struck at night while the men slept, said Sgt. Rod Walker.
The recent attacks occurred about a year after seven homeless
men were beaten to death in downtown Denver. Two teens have been
convicted in the death of one Denver man; no arrests have been made
in the other assaults.
There are about 800 people homeless in Colorado Springs, a city
of 350,000 residents at the foot of Pikes Peak with four military
bases and a growing hi-tech industry.
Like Baymen, some think it is safer to camp 5 miles west in a
national forest than to sleep outdoors in the city. They compare
themselves to the pioneers and prospectors of the Old West.
Baymen, 37, rests under a tarp tied to a tree and hides his
sleeping bag under a boulder to protect it from being stolen or
``What am I going to do? Go to the post office and sleep next to
my P.O. box?'' he said.
John Michael Jones spent nights at the city's only homeless
shelter until August, but left to live with a friend, said Jeannine
Holt, the shelter's director.
His body was found in a sleeping bag on Sept. 9 beneath a
downtown bridge, a quarter-mile from a soup kitchen and a park that
is a popular gathering place for homeless people.
Authorities say Jones died of a blow to the head. Some men who
were staying in an abandoned boxcar nearby said they came into
conflict with a group of men, one carrying a 2-by-4, shortly before
Jones' body was discovered.
A week before Jones' death, two other homeless men were beaten
by several attackers in the same area.
Some homeless people place part of the blame on police,
contending officers push them into areas where they are more
vulnerable to attack.
Other homeless people, especially younger ones, seem more upset
about being subjected to random searches for weapons and drugs than
about the attacks.
``They're trying to scare us out,'' said James W. Middlestadt
Jr., 24, as he stood in Monument Valley Park, across from the
Marian House soup kitchen.
Lt. Skip Arms said the homeless can always stay in shelters. But
Colorado Springs' only homeless shelter has been filled for the
last two months and Denver's shelters are 70 miles away.