A homeless man arrested for sexual assault shines an unflattering light on an ever-growing homeless population in Hot Springs.
“This is our overnight dorm. We have 28 beds in here,” Jan Laggan says while pointing to bunk beds in a room.
Samaritan Ministries in Hot Springs has been full for nearly a month.
“Our desire is to help anybody that needs help,” Laggan says. She believes the ‘No Vacancy’ trend at her homeless facility is a sign that demand is growing.
But, the Hot Springs homeless community faces new criticism after police arrested a known panhandler for attacking a woman inside an insurance agency on Friday.
The ladies that worked there were terrified,” Cpl. Kirk Zaner with Hot Springs police says.
Police say John Cullen, 47, went inside and asked for water. As a woman walked him to a break room, Cullen grabbed her chest from behind and reportedly said “I’m going to have you,” according to an arrest report.
That same day another police report states Cullen used that same line while trying to pull a woman from her car in the office parking lot.
In this case, he reportedly showed off a gun before pedaling away on a bicycle.
“I would caution people to know their surroundings and be careful when they’re dealing with anyone they don’t know,” Cpl. Zaner says.
A spike in sidewalk population results in new warnings from police.
“That creates a very dangerous situation. If you want to donate money, there’s also a lot of good causes you can donate money to,” Cpl. Zaner says.
And, one of those causes would love to help more, if they could.
“We can help them make a difference. We give them the tools,” Laggan says.
“But, they have to be willing.”