A homeless family in Fayetteville is viciously attacked by another person living on the streets. The family says the assailant broke the windows of their minivan, vandalizing their only form of shelter. Now Good Samaritans are raising money to help the family overcome this tragedy.
The harrowing story of Chris Tober, 45, and Sharman Tober, 73, illustrates just how vulnerable people who are experiencing homelessness are on the streets of Fayetteville.
They say this is the third time they have been attacked by another homeless person. It happened in early August, where the mother and son are camped out across the street from the public library on Maiden Lane.
A man was swinging a bat at one of the library's brick walls in the middle of the night. When one of the family's dogs barked at him, he came at them with a knife--then swung his bat at the car.
"I'm a forgiving person and I forgive him," Chris Tober said. "That's what I'm supposed to do. I ain't, I hold no grudges. But I did want him to get in jail or prosecuted."
The family says the attack hit them hard. They need the van for storage and to run basic errands like getting food, clothes, and doing laundry. There is still broken glass in and outside the minivan, so it is too dangerous for them to open some of the doors and retrieve their things. They are also exposed to more attacks and bad weather.
"If the rain comes, the wind comes, we're going to be drowned. We're not going to have any place to go--especially with our animals," Sharman Tober said.
Sharman Tober says that despite applying, they have struggled to access affordable housing. She also says their options for pursuing legal action against the assailant are limited because of their statuses as homeless people. Tober says she wishes city officials did more to recognize that homeless people are human beings like everyone else. She also believes the city should be more watchful of individuals on the street who are mentally unstable and could potentially pose harm to others.
"They do all kinds of stuff. They hurt people. We have people being stabbed, people being shot at."
Sharman and Chris Tober tell ABC 11 they have not seen the person who vandalized their minivan since the incident happened a few weeks ago. Still, they live in fear that he could strike again.
Anyone who wants to learn more about how to help can go to the Watch Out Cumberland County Facebook page.