The owner of the Cow’s End Café in Venice is recovering after the tip of his finger was bitten off during a violent Saturday morning confrontation with a homeless man in the popular coffee shop.
Police say Jonahthan Shain Lemons, 31, attacked Cow’s End owner Clabe Hartley after Hartley asked Lemons to stop bothering his customers. Customers came to Hartley’s defense and restrained Lemons until police arrived.
Hartley was transported to Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center, but surgeons were unable to reattach his fingertip.
Lemons has been charged with criminal threats and mayhem, according to the Los Angeles Times. At the time of his arrest, Lemons had outstanding warrants, LAPD officer Drake Madison said.
Hartley said that although he has seen the homeless population around the Venice Beach boardwalk increase over his 46 years running the coffee shop at 34 W. Washington Blvd., he does not associate the attack against him with the homeless becoming more violent.
“We’ve had homeless people since I’ve been here and they don’t usually impose on others. As a society, I feel that we have the moral obligation to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves and want to take care of themselves,” Hartley said. “We have what I call more vagrants — typically younger guys who are passing through Venice and who are much more aggressive and don’t seem to want help.”
Hartley said he was initially on guard when he saw Lemons standing in line at the coffee counter. Lemons had demanded money from Cow’s End Café customers on previous occasions, he said, and once even took a cup of coffee from a customer’s table and drank it.
“I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was angry. But I always believe in respecting everyone, whether you’re a bum or a billionaire,” he said.
Hartley said that after he told Lemons the restaurant would not serve him, Lemons shook his fist, cursed and threatened Hartley before attacking him.
“He said, ‘I’ll kill you.’ He tried to get at my eyes. I’m grateful that he didn’t have a gun,” Hartley said.
Hartley’s views that violence associated with the homeless on Venice Beach is connected to a handful of services-resistant troublemakers — not the homeless population at large — echoes comments that L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin made in January while requesting a greater police presence on the boardwalk.