San Francisco art gallery owner arrested after spraying water on homeless person

Police have arrested the owner of an art gallery in San Francisco after he was seen on video spraying water on a homeless person outside his shop last week.

Police issued an arrest warrant Wednesday charging the gallery owner, Shannon Collier Gwin, with misdemeanor battery “for the alleged intentional & unlawful spraying of water on & around” the homeless person, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a tweet.

Gwin, 71, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon near his shop and was booked into San Francisco County Jail on the battery charge, according to police.

CNN has not been able to confirm if Gwin has an attorney. He did not immediately respond to emails and calls for comment.

The arrest stems from an interaction on January 9 captured on video in which Gwin, casually leaning against a gate, sprayed water from a garden hose at an unsheltered person named “Q.” Officers responded to the scene for a possible assault and interviewed both people, who declined further police action, San Francisco police said.

People angry over his treatment of someone in need have vandalized his store in response, authorities said.

“The alleged battery of an unhoused member of our community is completely unacceptable. Mr. Gwin will face appropriate consequences for his actions,” Jenkins said in a tweet. “Likewise, the vandalism at Foster Gwin gallery is also completely unacceptable and must stop — two wrongs do not make a right.”

The confrontation comes as San Francisco — as well as other cities with expensive housing costs — has struggled to address a rise in homelessness and the sense of disorder that it can bring. About 4,400 people live unsheltered on San Francisco’s streets and 3,400 live in shelters, according to a 2022 tally by the city.

Gwin told CNN affiliate KGO that the homeless person, a regular in the area, refused to move and resisted his help in moving their belongings. He added that he was not remorseful for his actions.

“I find it hard to apologize when we’ve had no help on this situation,” Gwin told KGO after the incident and before his arrest. “We’ve called the police. There must be 25 calls on record to police.”

He has since offered an apology in a video statement, according to KGO.

“I’m deeply apologetic and abhorred when I watch that video,” he said. “I completely broke. I’m not equipped or trained to deal with a long-term citywide problem like this. I know it’s very hard to watch. I can only ask others to maybe try to better understand my breaking point by looking at sudden reactions they might have had in their own life and how they may have strongly overreacted and now feel so humbled and sorry.”

Trena Hamidi, who co-owns a bar next to the gallery, told CNN she was outraged when she saw the video, though she acknowledged Q has caused issues in the past, including screaming obscenities.

“The city needs to take action and do something to give these people support and help that they need, not move them a few blocks away,” Hamidi said. “That’s not the solution.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed recently touted her administration’s progress on decreasing homelessness, saying the city saw a 15% decrease in unsheltered homelessness and a 3.5% decrease in overall homelessness between January 2019 and January 2022.

“To achieve this, we launched new street initiatives, reactivated and expanded our shelter system, designed treatment programs for people experiencing homelessness who are facing substance abuse and mental health issues, and acquired more housing units than we have in the last 20 years,” Breed wrote.

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