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Women concerned about panhandler

By Sonny Long
May 16, 2013 at 12:16 a.m.


PANHANDLER

Women who have been solicited describe the man as Hispanic, about 5 feet, 4 inches tall with close-cropped hair and a small goatee. He is driving an older model maroon or burgundy car. If you are approached by this man, you can contact the Victoria Police Department at 361-573-3221.

NEED AN ORDINANCE?

The city of Victoria does not have an ordinance that addresses panhandling. Corpus Christi adopted one in 2011 that deals with aggressive panhandling. Part of the Corpus Christi ordinance also deals with less than truthful solicitors, reading in part, "It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit funds, directly or indirectly, by the misrepresentation of names, occupation, financial condition, social condition or residence of the persons purported to be benefited thereby or of the solicitor or misrepresentation of any other material fact."

Allison Blackwell reluctantly reached out the car window and handed the man in the car next to her $7 - all the cash she had on her.

In the backseat of his car, a child slept.

"I had a bad feeling about it," said Blackwell. "I was concerned about the little boy."

The man had pulled beside Blackwell in the Ashley Furniture parking lot Tuesday and asked for money to buy his 7-year-old a McDonald's Happy Meal.

He told Blackwell they had been kicked out of his parents' house after an argument, had nowhere to live and the child was hungry.

"He stayed in his car, so it wasn't intimidating," Blackwell said. "I could see the little boy asleep in the backseat."

But Blackwell wasn't the first to hear the man's story nor the first to be solicited for cash.

Susan Hudeck encountered him twice in recent days - with two different behaviors at two different locations.

She said last week in the parking lot of Office Depot, he walked up to her truck window and told her a story similar to the one he told Blackwell.

"As a mother, I thought that if a child is hungry, I can afford a $1.29 hamburger. I offered to drive over to McDonald's with him and buy the food, but as soon as I said that, he left," Hudeck said.

On Wednesday, the man approached Hudeck again, this time in the parking lot of Cavender's.

"He banged on my passenger side window and demanded cigarettes," Hudeck said.

"I told him I didn't have any, and he said he had seen them," she said.

"I grabbed my phone, and he took off. I have a big truck, and the only way he could have known if I had cigarettes would be to be looking in my windows," Hudeck said.

"The first time he was all, 'God bless you and thank you,' and the second time he was more aggressive and demanding," she said.

Hudeck called the Victoria Police Department to report the incident and posted her concerns and warning on Facebook.

Since that post, she has heard from about a dozen women with similar stories describing the same man. One woman said he pulled a knife on her, Hudeck said. Another told Hudeck she gave him $20 then followed him, and he passed by McDonald's without stopping.

VPD spokeswoman Sgt. Eline Moya said the police department has received calls about the man and is aware of his description and the incidents.

"Be cautious when being approached," Moya said. "You don't have to talk to him if he makes you feel uncomfortable.

"No one knows what someone is capable of."

Hudeck wants people to know this man is out there.

"He's doing this as a daily job, and the women of Victoria need to know," she said. "This needs to stop."

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