A woman named Paneez Kosarian came home to her apartment building in San Francisco Sunday night and found a homeless man waiting outside. Kosarian says she spent five to ten minutes talking to him, perhaps hoping he would leave so she could enter the building alone. She told KPIX he was warning her that the receptionist inside the building was a robot who wanted to kill her and claiming he was the last human on earth.
The bizarre conversation quickly transformed into a more pedestrian robbery when the homeless man demanded Kosarian hand over her phone and wallet. At that point, Kosarian reached for the front door and that’s when 25-year-old Austin James Vincent got physical, grabbing her and trying to drag her away from the door.
Police had been called on Vincent man before the altercation with Kosarian began, but they didn’t arrive until 30 minutes after it was over. That’s because the initial call about a man loitering outside the building was considered a low priority. Police did find and arrest the Vincent about a block away but a judge was quick to release him back onto the street.
Arrested at the scene, Vincent was arraigned on Tuesday after entering a plea of not guilty to charges of false imprisonment, attempted robbery and two counts of battery and was released. Vincent was ordered by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Christine Van Aken to report to a caseworker on condition of his release.
After finding out her attacker had been released, Kosarian tweeted a video of her attack to Governor Gavin Newsom. Here’s the one-minute long clip:
Mayor London Breed responded to the incident, telling KRON 4 that the judge made a “huge mistake.” She’s right. What are the odds that this distrubed man with no address is going to show up for subsequent court proceedings? However, Governor Newsom claimed he had just heard about the attack and offered no specific response beyond saying it was “a very serious issue.”
“I think it’s really unfortunate what happened,” Breed said. “I think the judge, unfortunately, made a huge mistake. [The homeless] person is a danger to society.”…
Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor, claimed he had just been informed of the attack but said “it was a very serious issue. It goes to the core of people wanting to live in a city as spectacular as [San Francisco]. And that foundation is safety.”
Newsom expressed his “sensitivity” to the incident, and others like it, but gave no opinion on the specific ruling.
Here’s KPIX’s report on the attack:
And there’s an additional wrinkle to all of this. The apartment building where Kosarian was attacked is next door to a planned homeless shelter which is currently under construction. That shelter will eventually house up to 200 homeless people. Neighbors sued to try to stop the shelter arguing that it would result in more crime and drugs in the area. What happened to Paneez Kosarian is exactly the sort of thing neighbors were worried about. KRON 4 returned to the neighborhood and spoke to people about the attack after Vincent was released. None of the people featured in this report thought the decision to release him made sense.