A fight involving two transients at a homeless encampment slated to be dismantled Friday left one of them dead and the other hospitalized, police said.

The men, who were not immediately identified, both lived at the encampment near the Santa Ana (5) Freeway and Chapman Avenue.

“The only thing that we can tell was there was an altercation,” Orange County sheriff’s Capt. Dave Sawyer said.

He said a 911 caller “heard an altercation. By the time we got here, there were two subjects that we determined were involved. But other than that, we really don’t know. That’s why we’re investigating it right now.”

Both men were taken to an area hospital to be treated for injuries in the scuffle, said Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

It appears the man who died had some sort of medical issue a short time following the tussle, Braun said.

The efforts to clear out the riverbed of the remaining transients was progressing, Braun said.

“The investigation is primary,” she said. “The most important thing is to investigate the crime and determine what happened.”

The “teams are still working” on finding shelter for the transients still camping on the riverbed, Braun said.

“They’re just working around the crime scene,” she added.

Before the death investigation, county officials were hopeful of completing their task of finding shelter for all of the transients, who numbered in the double digits as of Friday morning, Braun said.

Officials are issuing motel vouchers for some of the transients and finding a bed for others in area shelters.

Since social workers were sent out to the riverbed Jan. 22 to help transients find shelter, 544 people have been housed in a motel or shelter with 22 more being sent to county shelters.

On Tuesday alone, when the county began moving all of the transients off of the riverbed, 180 people were housed in 132 motel rooms.

Since Feb. 14, the county has found motel rooms for 478 with 22 others being placed in county shelters.

Since July 1, the county has found shelter or services for 817 transients on the riverbed.

–City News Service

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