A homeless woman threatened to steal an infant girl from her grandmother in Venice, California, Wednesday morning before hurling coffee in the baby’s face, according to the family.
Katy Gross, the mother of nine-month-old Gilda, told KTLA the incident was her “worst nightmare.”
She explained that her mother was taking Gilda to a playground when the homeless woman engaged them on the Venice Boardwalk at around 9:30 a.m.
“The woman came up behind her and said, ‘You! Give me that baby, give me that baby,'” Gross said.
“They took my baby, I’m going to take your baby,” the homeless woman allegedly added, KTLA reports.
Gross explained the homeless woman proceeded to take her mother’s coffee and hurl it into Gilda’s face. The grandmother carried Gilda to a nearby parking lot, where they were helped by good Samaritans.
CBSLA reports that the coffee “was not very hot,” and Gilda is okay.
“The Los Angeles Police Department arrested the woman, and she’ll face assault charges, Gross said,” according to KTLA.
This past summer, homeless encampments were removed from the Venice Boardwalk, but homeless individuals have already set up tents in the area again, according to KABC.
“It’s almost beyond frustration. It’s comical,” resident Dave Turner told the outlet. “The mismanagement of it has not served anyone well.”
Turner added that city officials have not done enough to address the problems.
The outlet reports:
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Venice, has faced backlash over his handling of the homeless crisis. Critics accuse the councilman of inaction that they say has led to a growing homeless population in their neighborhoods.
In August, as part of a program spearheaded by Bonin’s office, more than 200 unhoused people living in a large encampment on the boardwalk were moved into housing.
“They cleaned up the immediate boardwalk right here so people can claim victory but there’s people out in the sand, there’s people three blocks away and now it’s repopulating everywhere,” Turner told KABC.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s (D) office partnered with Bonin to replace the Senior Center in Westminster dog park with a “decompression center,” according to the West Side Current.
“It’s for folks who are decompressing from either mental breakdowns or heavy drug and alcohol use, which is great. That’s necessary, but the problem is that’s next to a school,” said Venice Oceanfront Walk Committee Vice Chair Brian Averill, according to CBS LA.
The plans have been halted after a law firm representing Venice Kids Count sent a cease and desist to Garcetti’s office, the West Side Current reports. Residents are up in arms about the mayor’s plans and say they were left in the dark.
Ryan Nichols, a resident and member of Venice Kids Count, said a planned site for a homeless shelter and mental-health services “is a much-needed thing,” though its placement in a park is an issue.
“The problem is, it’s right across the street from an elementary school,” Nichols said.
Nichols said he and other residents learned of the planned site through back channels, despite an agreement with the city that they’d be given 60 days’ written notice on any proposed changes to the building and park in question.
Heidi Roberts, a Venice resident “who as a part of that lawsuit with Venice Kids Count, said this plan is even more unacceptable,” according to CBSLA.
“They’ve broken every single promise they made to the community about safety and security. So, it’s hard for us to trust anything that they bring into our community, especially when our kids lives are stake,” she explained.
Prior to Wednesday’s incident, Gross spoke with CBSLA about her worry that the homeless population will increase in the park again if the plan for a decompression center comes to fruition.
“…some of them starting fires, a lot of screaming profanities, high and just screaming nonsense right in our backyard. It was terrifying,” Gross said. “I feel like this is bringing back what we found so hard to make a safe space for everybody.”