AUSTIN, Texas - A machete attack on a man walking his dog is just the latest violent incident on one corner in Southeast Austin.
Neighbors say crime is getting worse and worse—with much of the violence happening near homeless camps—despite the passage of the camping ban nearly a year ago.
A man was walking his dog past a small homeless encampment at Elmont Drive and Pleasant Valley Road around 8 p.m. Monday when he was violently attacked.
"They start basically ganging up on this guy. Someone hit him on the back of the head, and then they stabbed him with a machete," said a neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous.
The suspect, described as a man in his 20s, fled on foot. The victim was stabbed in his arm, but is expected to be okay.
"Actually my door guy ended up holding the guy’s wound waiting for EMS to show up," said Nathan Hill, owner of Frazier’s Long and Low at Elmont and Pleasant Valley.
He says this is the third recent incident on this corner involving a machete.
"This year in particular, the beginning of this year, and this corner in particular, has been the most violence I’ve seen attached to homelessness, unhoused situation in my 20 years in Austin," said Hill.
On Jan. 27, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed on that very corner.
On March 15, there was a stabbing at a camp a block away at Lakeshore Drive and Pleasant Valley.
On March 7, a man was shot and killed at a camp next to a creek that runs under East Riverside Drive near Pleasant Valley.
"I think it has been more frequent," said David Kong, who lives in the area. "I would be probably moving in the next year."
People who live and work in the area say they are worried for their safety.
"I certainly have employees that are pretty concerned," said Hill.
"I’m on high alert all the time. I can’t go out for walks," said one neighbor who didn’t want to be identified.
She told me she saw a gun being waved around at the Elmont and Pleasant Valley camp, hours before Monday’s attack, but when she called police, they just did a drive-by.
"There were two men exchanging a rifle, and they were just passing it back and forth in broad daylight," she said. "So it’s frustrating to me when later some innocent man gets stabbed with a machete when I called about weapons earlier in the day."
Hill says more needs to be done about the violence, but also homelessness in general.
"It’s whack-a-mole. If you don’t actually have a solution, all you’re doing is tearing down an encampment. Those people have to go somewhere else, they’re going to go somewhere else, and then there’s going to be another guy like me saying ‘we got a problem on our corner’."
But he feels like the city isn’t listening.
"I get told by APD, blame city hall. City hall tells me call APD. Nobody seems to want to take responsibility for how to manage the situation," said Hill.
FOX 7 reached out to the city’s Homeless Strategy Division. They referred us to Austin police, which has yet to respond to our request for comment.
In a statement, District 3 Council Member Sabino "Pio" Renteria, who represents the area, said in part:
"The recent incidents on East Riverside are deeply concerning to me…It’s important to note that these incidents have not been related to a single cause…To the extent that proximity to, or the involvement of, people experiencing homelessness is relevant to a given incident it underscores how important it is that we continue our efforts to get people off the streets and into housing."
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