Posted on September 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM
AUSTIN -- The arrest of a man professing to be homeless and living under the Barton Springs bridge is casting the spotlight back on aggressive panhandling, which is illegal in Austin.
Preston Sharpnack, 22, has been charged with manslaughter after Austin police say he punched Matt Casey. Casey was coming out of a 6th Street establishment on Labor Day when the incident happened.
Police told KVUE Sharpnack and another woman got into an altercation with Casey, an Austin architect, after they panhandled him.
“You don't know who that person is. You don't know what they're about. You don't know their story. You don't know if they could just go off at any minute and are looking for a reason to attack you,” said Austin Police Corporal Anthony Hipolito. “The best thing is to ignore them. Walk away. Don't make eye contact with them. Don't be confrontational with them because you're putting yourself in danger."
As of Thursday evening Austin police were also looking for the 34-year-old woman named Rene Allison Jones who was with Sharpnack at the time of the attack.