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Frustrated Bend auto shop owner says homeless man has threatened employees

DA says he will try to protect business -- but also get man help he needs

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) --Mike Leib says the man who lives at a homeless camp behind his business has been trespassing on his property and threatening his employees.

He said Thursday he’s called the police several times, to try get the man to stop, but he’s starting to run out of options.

“He’s been increasingly combative with my staff at the store,” Leib said.

The three-year general manager at Precision Body and Paint told NewsChannel 21 he knows the man and has had some conversations with him.

But Leib said the incidents have increased over the past few weeks.

“He’ll have some mental breaks, and he’ll show up on my front driveway screaming and yelling, threatening to kill us, threatening to stab my employees," Leib said.

"He’s called us Satanists and a bunch of other words your can’t really say on camera.” 

Leib said he is worried for his employees' safety and well-being.

“It’s scaring them,” Leib said. “We worry about in the darkness if he comes running around our gate at night. I don’t want one of our employees to be hurt.”

Leib said he's called police several times, including after an incident last Thursday, when he caught the man throwing a rock at his building.

Police issued the man a citation, then let him go.

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said he will be reviewing all of the cases involving the man. 

“It’s good that the business owner called me,” Hummel said. “There’s a chance that if he didn’t, these cases would have been viewed individually.”

Hummel emphasized he will try his best to protect local businesses, while also helping the homeless man get the help he needs.

“You could put him in jail, sure," he said. "But if the person gets out, and they have not gotten the help for their challenges, we’re going to be right back where we began.”

Holly Harris, program manager with Deschutes County Behavioral Health, said there are many programs and approaches available to business owners dealing with similar issues.

While she laid out many options, from police involvement to a visit to the county's new Stabilization Center, she stressed patience, even in such difficult, even frightening situations. 

“I think the important thing to remember is that it’s not a simple solution, and it often takes a lot of patience,” Harris said. “But I would just recommend that they reach out for support to the professionals that are doing this work, so that we can share with them all the resources that might be available.” 

Morgan Miller, a midwife at the Bend Birth Center, located behind Precision Body and Paint and the homeless camp, said the man hasn’t trespassed on their property or bothered them.

“I think the gentleman that’s there now is a different one that’s been there in the past," Miller said. "But I think it’s a location that people have found safety in, so it rotates who’s there at a time.” 

“But for the most part, people keep to themselves, and they’re just trying to get by,” she added. 

Leib said he has no issue with the man’s presence. He just wants him to leave his business alone.

“You know, I understand -- everybody has a right to live,” Leib said.

“But when somebody is suffering from either drug dependency or mental health, I don’t believe that everybody that is abiding by the law should pay the price.” 

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

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