COLORADO SPRINGS — A homeless man was arrested for second-degree assault after an altercation led to a stabbing at a Westside Colorado Springs business.
"A homeless man came in and tried to charge his phone. He was asked to leave very politely, got into an altercation with the owner, and it escalated from there," said Joanna McIntosh, General Manager of RM Window Tint and Graphics.
The homeless man allegedly pulled a knife, and the owner was able to grab the knife and stab the attacker.
"He got pretty banged up. He got two black eyes, four stitches on his nose since it was a pretty deep gash, but Bob is definitely OK," said McIntosh.
McIntosh was out of the office at the time of the altercation, but she wasn't surprised to hear what happened.
"They sleep right outside of our door at night. I've seen a couple of them tug on the doors to try and get in. They are behind the fence, we have locks on all of the fences around the building but they still get over them. They are in the back of our building sleeping, they are down the hill from our building sleeping. It's a nightmare," said McIntosh. "A lot of trash, there was candle wax outside of the front door because they were just sitting there burning candles all night, there was throw up, and beer cans."
When it comes to handling those types of situations, experts say it's important to refrain from making assumptions about the threat.
"You're dealing with a population of people that have many problems and they don't process information the same way. Having that dialogue with them, and assuming that they are going to behave and act the same way that you would is one of the first things you have to let go of. You have to say I don't know what's going to happen when I say no, do I see anomalous behavior, and how does that person react when I say no," said Dave Lund, Master Instructor with Tactical Training Academy. "We also allow our non-verbals to leak out, so how you're feeling inside. Maybe it's a homeless person in this particular case, and you've had problems and so you're angry with that person on the inside and you let that anger leak out through the muscle of your face and other non-verbal clues."
Lund recently finished a de-escalation training class with a local homeless organization. He recommends three steps to help de-escalate a situation.
"Step one is having a plan. What do we do if a person comes through the door and wants to use our power? Step two is being aware and paying attention to what's going on around you. That means you aren't out with your phone in front of you. You should be looking around, you can avoid a lot of problems by paying attention. If you have a plan, and you're paying attention then the next logical step is to take action on what you're observing. That's when we're coming back to that anomalous behavior," said Lund.
While this incident wasn't the first at RM Window tint and Graphics, McIntosh says it was one of the most violent. She hopes to see action taken to reduce the growing number of homeless in the area.
"It worries me because we do have customers that come in and wait. We have customer's cars here that we are responsible for so if homeless people go around breaking into cars, it could be any of our customers. What happens if the next guy walks in here and throws a fit and we have children in the lobby. It worries me in that aspect," said McIntosh.
Police say the homeless man was arrested for second-degree assault, and they are still investigating the incident.