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Second transient beating in a week raises questions in this rural town

By Miriam Raftery

May 9, 2012 (Ramona) – Sheriff’s deputies have arrested Tanner Hendee, 19, for the severe beating of a homeless man found unconscious yesterday morning.

Paramedics and Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call at 5:28 a.m. requesting an ambulance at an abandoned home near the 100th block of 12th Street. They found the victim inside on his back and unresponsive, having suffered a one-inch head laceration, a right orbital fracture, and a possible spinal fracture.

Cal Fire paramedics attempted to revive the man, who was transported via air ambulance to a trauma hospital.  “His injuries do not appear life-threatening,”  Sergeant Daniel Vengler stated in a press release issued by the Sheriff early today.

Hendee was idenfied by witnesses who said they watched him punch and kick the unconscious victim about the head and face.  He was captured and booked into jail for assault with a deadly weapon.

This was the second violent action in less than a week against a transient in Ramona. On May 4, two transients were arrested for beating and robbing a third transient, 65. 

The crimes point up the growing problem of homelessness in San Diego's rural areas, as well as the lack of any official county-run homeless shelter in the unincorporated areas. The number of unsheltered homeless people countywide rose 6.4% in the past year, to 5,300, according to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless. Another 4,500 are in shelters (primarily in the city of San Diego); sheltered homeless rose 11.4%. 

In some East County communities, churches have stepped forward to offer shelter and services. But law enforcement sweeps, foreclosures and job losses have brought homeless to areas not previously hit by the homelessness issue.

In some rural communities, homeless individuals are largely left to fend for themselves--a potentially risky prospect.