Homeless Man Stalks Public Safety Committee Member

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Nearly a year ago, Suzie Bahan volunteered for the public safety committee because of an incident with a homeless person she encountered near her workplace on Old San Carlos. She wanted to help make the community safer. Last month it happened again. This time it was worse.

The homeless situation on Fort Myers Beach continues to be a big and growing problem. It’s an issue this current town council has not even attempted to address.

This week, Bahan told her public safety committee colleagues, “People are living under the bridge.” She said a man was following her late one evening when she took her dog for a walk. She had mace in one hand her dog in the other so she wasn’t able to call 911 as she tried to get away from the man.

She tried to lose him by ducking into an alley by Shipwreck on Old San Carlos and locking herself, and her dog, in her business, which is also located in the area. When she left the building and turned the corner to head home, he was standing right there. They were face-to-face.

Luckily he only asked for weed, then rolling papers. He also looked down at her hand and could see she was ready to mace him if she needed to so he took off. She told the committee, “I should not have to deal with this.” When she got back to her residence and called 911, the dispatcher told her being that she was home safe she didn’t need to send out deputies. That didn’t sit well at all with the committee.

The next night Bahan found two more homeless people sleeping on her property, another night someone was on her deck. “This is becoming more frequent and I’m scared. I’m scared at night and I’m not an easily scared person.”

Committee Chairman John Goggin said a community group needs to be organized to address this including the sheriff, the town council and the churches. “We need to come up with a holistic answer to this problem. This (the homeless) is a big problem.”

Committee member Tom Gressman was critical of the churches on the beach that provide services to the homeless. “The free showers, the free meals need to be moved off island.”

Vice Chair Heidi Jungwirth added, “The churches are enabling them. If they come here, why should they leave. They need to stop helping the homeless who are not helping themselves.”

13 COMMENTS

  1. You all need to Preasure our County to address these issues. They get grant money to provide proper services and shelters but they aren’t doing a damn thing about it. They say they are in the “Homeless Business”
    The churches aren’t enabling them, they are providing the only assistance in your area.

  2. Sometime back in 06 or 07 there was an incident at the ballfield during a girl’s softball game. A homeless man came out of the outfield brush and made comments to a young outfielder. He was gone by the time cops got there.
    The fences around the Beach School, giving the old buildings an image more of San Quentin than an elementary school, went up years ago
    because of the homeless invasion settling ino the brush next door.
    The school district won’t tell you that. I just did.

  3. I agree with the concerns and comments.

    But the churches are not just enablers. I suggest BTR have the pastors of Beach Baptist and Chapel by the Sea on your program (again?). I’ve heard them before and it was interesting perspective that their objective was not just to serve, but to get the homeless registered, earn their trust and get them assistance when they can.
    None of us should be fearful but with the numbers of homeless on the beach, I know I’m wary and careful…

    The town and law enforcement need a plan to address the growing homeless population on FMB.

  4. I do feel sorry for these people..but I hate being at Timesquare..when standing by myself..I get a few men asking for money
    I feel intimated by this n it makes me want to not leave my husband’s side..I would think thes is really bad for tourists n business

    • Exactly!! They say hi, then you do say hi back and then it’s always “do you have any money”?

  5. There was an incident with some friends I had visiting where a (homeless) person “accidentally” fell into my friend and lifted his wallet. Luckily my friend is a Boston Police Officer so he knew how to handle it. But I’ve heard similar stories from others.

  6. This is a huge problem. Maybe Bahan should leave her dog outside to scare off the homeless or get bright outdoor lights , being the police don’t think her safety is a problem.

  7. I reported to the city about an incident at the bus stop in Times Square. My wife was sitting on a bench and a homeless man walked in front of her and fell on her leg. She was not injured but it could have been. That was weeks ago and I have never heard a word from the city!

  8. I agree with Tom, most of these WANT to be homeless. That’s fine, but they should not be supported on this island.

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