The Rescue Mission plans to heighten security at its downtown shelter after violent attacks on homeless people and staffers, the organization said Thursday.
The Rev. Donovan Coley, Mission CEO, said that in the past six or seven months, homeless people have been reporting that theyve been the targets of violence. And a couple of recent incidents have entangled Mission workers, he said.
Coley said a gang of young people, who frequent the Missions shelter on Superior Street, have threatened staff and attacked a shelter resident in Freimann Square. In recent weeks, members of the gang mugged a 75-year-old Mission employee on Spy Run Avenue while he was headed to work, Coley said.
Hes been on staff forever here, just a good, faithful person, Coley said of the employee. He was actually thrown off his bicycle and attacked.
Its believed the assailants, who were not in good standing with the Mission, were retaliating against the employee, Coley said.
As a result of such violence, the Mission is making sure its facilities throughout the city are well-lit and have surveillance cameras and alarm systems. At the Superior Street shelter, a better surveillance system with more cameras will be installed, Coley said.
The Mission hopes to raise $50,000 to cover all the security improvements, he said.
Coley said police presence at the shelter will increase, with an officer stopping by at mealtime and two officers on bicycles patrolling downtown. Phone messages left for a police spokesman were not returned Thursday.
Other steps to boost safety include forbidding people at the shelter from wearing headgear that could conceal a weapon. Gang clothing is also not welcome.
On Thursday evening, two Mission residents standing outside the shelter said they had heard about the recent violence. The men, who declined to give their names for privacy reasons, both knew about the mugging of the 75-year-old employee.
There was evidence on his face that he had been attacked, one man said. The other man said he was not concerned about possibly being the target of violence.
They are not going to bother me, he said. I dont put up with it.