Saturday, May 20, 2017

Venice Activist Assaulted by Homeless Camper, Arm Broken

Rick Swinger
Venice activist Rick Swinger was assaulted by a homeless camper on Rose Avenue the morning of Thursday, May 18th, which resulted in Rick being knocked to the ground and his arm broken.  This is yet another in a long series of attacks on Venice residents by transients living on Venice's streets, sidewalks and parks.

Rick cautions Venice residents that the man who assaulted him is very combative and has been seen twice since the attack around the Full Circle Church property next to Rick's apartment at the corner of Rose and Hampton.

"My wife and I are afraid for our lives at this point," Rick said in the aftermath of the attack.

The attacker is white, about 200 pounds, around 50 with dark brown hair and beard.  Rick first noticed him in late April when he took to sitting on the picnic table on the front patio of the church next door and using a metal electric panel enclosure as storage for his possessions.  Rick said, "He even has his own lock for the panel door."

The attacker has frequently awakened Rick and his wife during the night.  Rick had previously attempted to engage the fellow in friendly conversation, but the camper became quickly agitated and threatening.

On the morning of the assault Rick and his wife were awakened at 4:30 AM by the man yelling while sitting at the picnic table on the church patio.  Rick went over to the church property to ask him quiet down.  To protect himself, Rick carried a can of pepper spray held behind his back.   As soon as Rick explained to the man that people were trying to sleep next door the fellow lunged at Rick, so he sprayed him with the pepper spray and started to walk back to his apartment.  The homeless camper was barely affected by the spray and pursued Rick.  Rick, now on the sidewalk, turned and sprayed the attacker in the face, but this did not stop the attacker from knocking Rick to ground.  In the fall, Rick's arm was broken.  

Rick's broken and battered arm.

He called out to his wife who ran over and helped Rick to his feet and back into the apartment.  His attacker was also down on the sidewalk, finally slowed down by the pepper spray.  After calling 911 they got in their car and started to head off to Brotman Hospital where Rick's wife is a nurse.  As they were leaving an LAPD patrol car arrived and the officers agreed to follow Rick and his wife to the hospital to fill out a police report on the incident.  (The attacker had left the site by then.)

Rick reports that he saw his attacker come back to get stuff out of the electric panel enclosure later that day and has seen him in the area on two more occasions.  Each time he called the LAPD but they did not arrive in time to catch the guy.

Rick had earlier taken a photo of the fellow because he found him erratic, loud and menacing.  After he gave the photo to the LAPD, one of the Beach Patrol officers told Rick that he knew of him.  As of this posting, the attacker has not been arrested.  Rick's request to church staff for them to put their own lock on the electric panel box to stop its use as storage space and to remove the picnic table, which is a homeless magnet, have gone without response.


Rick has been leading the effort to force the City and Public Storage to stop all the dumping of toxic materials around Third and Rose, which drain directly to a pool on the beach where the storm drain empties.  The City is remiss in not posting signs to warn children not to play in the polluted water.