After leaving a Thai restaurant in Hollywood with friends, Heidi Van Tassel was attacked in one of the most disgusting and horrifying ways possible by a mentally ill homeless man. That man, Jere Blessings, sprinted across Hollywood Boulevard, dragged Van Tassel out of her car and into the middle of the street, and dumped a bucket of diarrhea on her head.
“It was diarrhea. Hot liquid. I was soaked, and it was coming off my eyelashes and into my eyes,” Van Tassel said. “Paramedics who came to treat me said there was so much of it on me, that it looked like the man was saving it up for a month. It was all inside my car because it was so much. He just kept pouring it and splattering it all over me,” she said.
Van Tassel was rushed to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital after the grotesque attack, where she was tested for infectious diseases caused by contact with feces. She’ll need to be retested every three months.
The crime was reported to the Los Angeles Police Department. Though Van Tassel was told they’d investigate the crime, her phone calls to both the department weren’t returned and the promised victim’s advocate never contacted her.
Security cameras from nearby businesses caught the attack, but the police won’t release the video and won’t allow Van Tassel to view it – most likely because the ideologically-driven LAPD brass know that the public would demand that recent laws that give the homeless more rights than other citizens be rescinded, and would demand that vagrants/transients/homeless people (insert whatever term floats your boat here) be forced to follow existing laws.
After NBC 4 Los Angeles got involved, Van Tassel learned what happened to her attacker. Blessings, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was declared unfit to stand trial and spent two months in a residential mental health facility and is now back on the streets. Van Tassel says, “What’s the next thing he’s going to do somebody? If he would’ve had a knife, for sure he would’ve stabbed me.”
At some point soon progressive politicians and their friends in the media will have to acknowledge that they’re not “decriminalizing homelessness.” They’re allowing mentally ill people to suffer without dignity and putting everyone else in danger of being raped, killed, or violently attacked.
Last week I had the opportunity to briefly speak with Dr. Drew Pinsky after a radio appearance. Since I am passionate about solving Los Angeles’ homeless crisis I thanked him for his work in the area. He suggested that I look into the number of schizophrenic people who are on the streets in Los Angeles and commented that it’s unspeakably cruel to allow people who’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia to languish, untreated, on the streets. We would never treat an older person with dementia that way or expect them to be able to take care of themselves without assistance. We would never expect someone with dementia to be able to remember to take their medication. Yet, the policies in place in Los Angeles and many other areas encourage schizophrenics to go without treatment and allow their disease to spiral irreversibly.
Without swift policy changes there will be many, many more attacks like the one Heidi Van Tassel endured. “I will never, ever forget his face,” she says.
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