Venice Restaurant Owner's Fingertip Bitten Off by Homeless Man

Venice Boardwalk 2012 - H - 2014
Associated Press

News reports say the owner of The Cow's End Cafe got into an altercation with a homeless man harassing customers.

A Venice restaurant owner was recovering on Sunday after being attacked the day before by a homeless man who ended up biting off part of his finger. 

Clabe Hartley, the proprietor behind popular restaurant The Cow's End Cafe, a few blocks from the Venice boardwalk, told CBS Los Angeles that he confronted the homeless man after he began harassing customers, even allegedly taking a patron's drink. 

"He was telling people 'Give me money, give me money now,' very aggressively in their face," Hartley said in an interview with KCAL9's Cristy Fajardo. The homeless man hit Hartley, 72, in the face, overpowered him and in the ensuing scuffle bit part of his finger off. Hartley, who was already nursing hand and ankle injuries from a recent motorcycle accident, described the homeless man as around 6"5' and about 50 years his junior. 

Bystanders came to Hartley's aid, helping him subdue the man before he was arrested in connection with the attack. "Three men came over and tried to hold him down. Two guys went on his legs. One was on his other arm. A customer said, 'He bit you.' And he spit it out," said Hartley. Hartley's injuries required 40 stitches and a skin graft. 

Hartley as well as several other business owners have raised concerns about the rising number of transients heading to Venice, especially more aggressive transients to the detriment of public safety and tourism in the area. He and other concerned local business owners are coming together to discuss making the area safer, possibly even hiring private security. 

CBS Los Angeles reports that police on Sunday identified the suspect as 31-year-old Jonathan Lemons, and he has been booked for suspicion of aggravated mayhem.