Driver assaulted by panhandler at red light

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Assaulted at a stop light, investigators with the Florida Highway Patrol are looking for an aggressive panhandler in West Palm Beach who they said brutally damaged a car while it was sitting at a stop light.

The attack happened on the southbound Okeechobee exit during rush-hour traffic.

The driver said he was just sitting there, waiting for the light to turn green when a panhandler walked up to his car and went off on him.

"He could have killed me. I think he could have. Or if he could have gotten a window open, it would have been a battle," said Scot Love.

Love said on this occasion, he was not paying attention to the panhandler.

But then he noticed the man stop at his car and pull out a shank. Love said the man began stopping his tire, punching his window and then ended the attack by kicking in his door.

Love called 911 and both the West Palm Beach Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol showed up.

The damages were so severe, Love could not roll down his window or drive home.

His insurance company estimated the damages in the thousands.

"The fear is that we become rather accused to these people becoming benign. And then somebody just goes off," said Love.

FHP is still investigating. Since there is no record of the panhandler, the man is still out there.

"I don't think they necessarily need to outlaw panhandling, but I think there should be some process to register them perhaps like anyone else who has a thriving business in the county," said Love.

Aggressive panhandling is banned in Palm Beach County.

Investigators said since the drive was in his vehicle at the time of the incident, whoever did it faces assault charges.


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