By Cari Hachmann
An OCSD Crime Scene Investigator photographs the ground at a campsite in North Beach, where a fight reportedly broke out Thursday afternoon between two homeless men.
Witnesses said the perpetrator beat another man so badly, he was lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood before paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital. The suspect reportedly walked away on foot.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies were on the scene investigating the alleged assault, but could not provide further information on the incident.
However, Darryl McFann, a San Clemente resident of 40 years, was standing by as the fight happened.
McFann said, “The assailant kept repeating, ‘Don’t ever touch my girlfriend again!’ and he was hollering and delivering punches left and right. Then he lifted his foot up and stomped on the man’s head, more than once. That’s when I pulled him off.”
McFann, a father and grandfather, said if he didn’t step in, the perpetrator may have crushed the man to death with his foot.
While the stranger struggled against him, McFann warned the man that he would go to prison for the rest of his life if he killed this person. McFann said the assailant eventually gave up, and then walked across the parking lot and disappeared.
As the victim lay unconscious on the ground, McFann called 911. “He was badly injured. He had a lot of blood coming out of his nose and mouth.”
After about four minutes, McFann said the man started groaning and coming back to. “His teeth (dentures) had been knocked out. They were lying in the dirt,” the resident said.
McFann recognized the victim, who was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, as a man named Bradly.
Standing among a group of other locals, McFann said he is one of a handful of residents who make frequent visits to the encampments at North Beach, to ensure things don’t get out of control. He said he often acts as a liaison between the homeless and other people who have made violent threats towards them.
“It’s kind of brutal down here,” McFann said.
O’Neil was there for the same reasons. “Most people don’t want to get involved, but my kids surf down here.”
Brendan O’Neil moved to San Clemente because he thought it would be an ideal place where his 11 kids could live in close proximity to their schools.
Lately, he and other male residents have been stopping by the encampments at night, around 11 to 12 p.m., to make their presence known.
“We call it tucking them in,” O’Neil said. “I think it’s important these guys know they can’t do anything they want, whenever they want. They need to know we are watching… because we care.”
The resident described a host of violations he’s witnessed while on civic patrol including; people defecating on sidewalks, “dope dealing all day long” and prostitution from nearby bathrooms.
“None of this was here a year ago. Now it’s out of control,” O’Neil said. “Then kids come down here in their bare feet and there’s urine, feces, blood—it’s a health hazard.”
As for the violence, he said, “It’s not about homelessness, it’s about antagonistic bad behavior.” O’Neil doesn’t feel like the problems are being addressed.
He fears that the new city ordinance, which intends to move the homeless camps more than block away to a city lot on Avenida Pico, is not going to work.
“They are here for the beach. They are not going to stay there (in the city yard). It’s a joke,” he said.
O’Neil talked about how many of the homeless people he’s encountered have mental health and addiction problems that keep them from making logical decisions.
“We are the ones who suffer, because a group of people who aren’t capable of doing what’s in their best interest,” said O’Neil.
McFann also doesn’t believe the temporary relocation encampment is the answer.
But, he said it will help provide temporary relief, and it couldn’t have come a single day later.
“It’s like a kettle burping steam that’s about to burst,” said McFann.