Attn downtowners: aggressive panhandler, be careful

Fourth post of the day, but I didn’t intend to have to write this one.

There is a very aggressive, possibly dangerous panhandler in the area. As I was walking home from the Saucer about 4:00 this afternoon, I was approached by a white male, short blond hair, starting to bald, about 30-35, 5’7″-5’8″, stocky build like he works out, carrying a note that he tried to show me. I just said, “No, man” and kept walking, as I do for other bums who use “the note” to get people’s attention. (Usually “the note” means they were either just released from jail or a mental institution.)

Usually they’ll just realize they’ve hit a dead end and continue on to the next person. But not this one. He started cussing. “Faggot-ass bitch,” he said. I continued to walk on, and as I did I looked back to make sure he wasn’t coming after me. Well, when he saw me look back it provoked him, and he did come after me. “You better run, motherfucker, I’ll fuck your ass up.” He chased me about 50 feet down Main Street between Union and Monroe; luckily, I was able to get a trolley in between him and me. After that he continued cussing and threatening to come after me until I got about a block down the road, then he lost interest and moved on to other people. I got the Downtown Precinct on the phone (I have them on speed dial) and followed him from a safe distance, but I lost him in the area of Main and Peabody Place before the cops could pick him up.

In 3 1/2 years downtown, this is the first time I’ve ever felt seriously threatened in broad daylight. This guy was not your typical bum/crackhead. He looked like he eats well (another sign that he had possibly been locked up recently) and works out. And I could tell by his demeanor that he was legitimately crazy. Also, I had my laptop computer in my backpack, and I definitely didn’t want to risk it getting broken or stolen.

If you see anyone fitting this guy’s description, I recommend crossing the street, doubling back, changing course, whatever you have to do to avoid talking to him. If you can’t avoid him, and you’re not among a LOT of people, I’d recommend giving a dollar or two to appease him. I’m really afraid that he’s going to hurt someone if the cops don’t get him off the streets soon.

Sorry to alarm everyone, but if you live or work downtown, you need to watch out.