Transient woman assaults, gropes people in Salt Lake City hair salon
SALT LAKE CITY – A shop in the Ballpark neighborhood calls for change after the owner said a homeless woman attacked two people in his salon. The situation came out of nowhere and was captured by the camera.
What used to be an old car garage is now a place of modern beauty and relaxation.
Randy Topham renovated the building at 1010 S. State Street three years ago and moved his long-standing Cake Hair Salon business from downtown to Ballpark.
The move came after much research, he said, learning of the city’s plans to revive State Street.
Since then, Topham has created the parlor space he has always dreamed of.
“Still, every time I look at it it feels like a dream when we’re inside. The inside is perfect,” he said.
It’s the outside that he said was challenging, and it’s gotten worse lately.
Topham talked about the various things he had to deal with. Sometimes he had problems several times a day.
“Sometimes people just come to the front door and scream and scream profanity at us,” the salon owner passed on. “Sometimes it’s people who come into our parking lot and do something out there.
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But Topham never experienced the situation that played out in Cake’s lobby on Saturday.
Newly installed surveillance cameras show a woman entering. She goes off the screen and Topham said the woman sat in one of the lobby chairs in a daze.
He went up to him to ask how he could help her.
“All of a sudden she was yelling and just jumping up and attacking me,” Topham said.
The woman ran her hands over the product shelves and tossed items all over the place, he added. He wanted to try to get the woman back outside, but Topham said the woman tried to turn and take a break for the back of the parlor.
They got into a fight.
“We turned in sight [of the security camera]and she fell and I was trying to just hold her in place so she wouldn’t hit and kick me, “he said.
The video shows Topham holding the woman on the ground. Suddenly the woman begins to lift her head towards him.
“She rolled up a loogie and spat on me, and I kind of jumped up and stepped back,” he recalled.
At this point a new salon customer gets up from a chair and steps in to help. When the man offers the woman his hand, she grabs it.
But on the way up from the floor, she slips her other hand into the customer’s pocket. Topham said the woman then groped the customer.
Finally the woman is pushed outside and leaves.
Topham said the same woman came into the parlor another time and started laughing as she buried Topham when he tried to get her to leave.
Not only do people come from the street like this woman, but Topham said he had problems with people camping in an empty parking lot across the building next to him.
Topham says he called the police several times, but they can only respond in a fraction of the time. Officers replied Saturday, and Salt Lake City police confirmed that a detective will be investigating the matter to pursue criminal charges.
But Topham described how some of the less aggressive problems are not properly treated.
“I have spoken extensively with the police about it,” Topham said. “And they say that their hands are tied, they do everything to help, but they are understaffed and then unfortunately they are only allowed to do so much for the temporary population.”
Upon hearing this, Topham said he had also reached out to the Salt Lake City council, as well as the mayor’s office and the homelessness advocacy and response team.
He wasn’t happy with what they told him either.
“I think so many of these temporary people need our help and I think we have to give it to them,” Topham said. “We can’t just look away blindly and say, ‘Leave her alone.’ Because what you allow, you promote. If you allow lawlessness, you get it. “
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SLCPD Sgt. Brandon Shearer said there had been more calls in the area over the past two months. You have taken at least 9 to 10 calls from Cake Hair Salon, mostly trespassing.
If calls increase in a certain area, he explained that more resources will be allocated there.
Shearer talked about how city social workers often try to provide resources to people affected by homelessness.
“I think it’s important to remember that homelessness is not a crime,” he said.
The Ballpark neighborhood has had many crime complaints from residents and businesses for more than a year, and Shearer explained some of the steps that have been taken to liaise with the community.
He said just last week that they were holding “Coffee with a Cop” in the Ballpark area.
“Our community liaison officer assigned to this area has worked very closely with community members to determine what kinds of problems they are seeing and address them in a timely manner,” he said.
Topham would like more action at the administrative and city council levels.
He hopes the city can work on guidelines to address the issues as he works to make his salon the perfect dream space – both inside and out.
“I hope we can make some changes in the future so we don’t have these challenges,” he said.