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Homeless people vulnerable to attacks

BRADENTON — It remains unclear what led to the brutal beating of a homeless man behind a 14th Street West business.

The bloody attack has been on the lips of local homeless people who stay in the same area.

Daniel A. Case, who had been homeless on and off for about 10 years, was repeatedly beaten with an undisclosed object, according to police. He died from head trauma and was found slumped over, sitting in a chair behind Griggs Plumbing, 1317 12th Avenue West on Monday morning, according to authorities.

Charles Franklin, 58, lives on the streets in the same area. Like Case, he eats at the Salvation Army, just across the street from where Case was found. He remembered seeing Case.

“You didn’t see (Case) much because he didn’t put himself out there to be seen. Someone had to come to him because he always stayed away,” Franklin said.

Franklin, who stays outside, said he was going to consider using the shelter for the next few days.

“That could have been me,” said Franklin who was waiting outside the shelter before dinner.

Salvation Army Maj. Robert Pfeiffer said the shelter’s overnight stays at the 14th Street West location have increased over the past few nights. However, it’s difficult to ascertain if it’s because of temperatures dipping below 50 degrees or Case’s brutal killing, which happened across the street.

Many of those who sleep on the streets or under bridges tucked away are vulnerable to crimes, Pfeiffer said.

“One of the problems you will always have is a segment of the population who does not want to sleep inside. They fall victim to crimes because they are exposed,” he said. “They are in areas where if something happens, there’s no one to see it.”

In exchange for doing light tasks at Griggs Plumbing, Case was allowed to sleep on a cot tucked away in the rear of the building where he was found dead.

Homeless people, like Case, are also easy targets because they often carry alcohol and cash.

“As the economy worsens and more people become homeless we’re going to see a rise in this kind of crime because desperate times will lead to desperate measures,” Pfeiffer said.

Franklin also fears there will be more violence involving homeless people.

“With the economy being the way it is and people being so frustrated — and not having work,” he said. “People are doing the wrong thing.”

Bradenton Police Lt. John Affolter said there are no new leads in the case. A motive has not been determined.

“We’re hoping someone will come forward with information,” he said.

Anyone with any information about Case’s death, can contact Bradenton Police Department Detective Greg Price at 932-9355 or remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477). The Manatee County Gold Star Club is offering up to $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.

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