Homeless man accused of carrying chainsaw, chopping down trees in Greenbelt

South Austin residents are disturbed about a homeless man with a chainsaw who has been cutting down trees, they said.

Court documents show the man has been arrested multiple times for criminal trespassing. Neighbors said they’re concerned for their safety and want something done.

"For the first 6 or 7 years, my kids and I hiked back there, explored, as did many folks in the neighborhood," Westlake Neighborhood Resident Christina Coats-Gatz said.

Coats-Gatz said one of the main reasons why she moved to the Westgate neighborhood in Southwest Austin nine years ago was because of the Williamson Creek Greenbelt. She said since, it turned into a tent city, it’s supposed to be cleared out now, but it’s a mess and one man remains.

"Always walking around with a chainsaw and then after a week he had a pole saw," Westlake Neighborhood Resident John James Pepper said.

About a month ago, Coats-Gatz encountered a homeless man near her home.

"This individual named Rami comes after me and says ‘you’re stealing my tools,’ and I’m like, ‘hold on, I’m not stealing your tools, you’re not supposed to be here. The city has cleared everybody out, you can’t build latrines.' He’s like ‘I’m not building a latrine,’ something about Satan is in the trees, what’s wrong with you, are you a satanist," Coats-Gatz said.

She said she was scared and called the Austin Police Department, but he didn’t leave.

"What if next week God tells him to burn the whole forest? There’s people all up and down here, there’s a retirement community, this is a danger back here," Coats-Gatz said.

"I called them after he started building these blair witch instillations that are very creepy," Pepper said.

Neighbors said they hear him at all hours of the night.

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"It’s really odd times and just chopping and a saw going off, and then you’ll wake up or come back home and then there’s just more of these weird monolithic structures just stacks of what I believe to be greenbelt trees," Pepper said.

They said they’re scared for their safety.

"I just want to see anything done in regard to the protection of taxpaying citizens and the public lands that we love," Pepper said.

Court documents show Rami Zawaideh has been charged with criminal trespassing in and around the Williamson Creek Greenbelt five times. The County Attorney has rejected prosecuting him three times.

"I would hope that he would get help somewhere and not be allowed to be a repeat offender," Coats-Gatz said.

Zawaideh currently has an active case. His pretrial hearing is set for Nov. 29. FOX 7 Austin reached out to the County Attorney and are waiting for a response.