CHICO, Calif. - Lawrence Thompson says he was coming out of Rite Aid on Mangrove one sunny morning when he heard a commotion. When he saw a large homeless man picking on a much smaller, older homeless man, he decided to step in.
Chico Police say with the rise in the number of homeless people in the area, there has also been a rise in the number of reported fights among that population.
Sergeant Omar Pena says it can be dangerous to get involved.
"We've had instances where, as peace officers, we've intervened," he said. "And then they turn on the peace officer. So you never know what that argument might be, what their relationship is going to be so you might find yourself defending yourself against two people, instead of rescuing one, which is what initially people get in for."
Still, Thompson says this fight looked unfair. He whipped out his cell phone and began recording.
The video shows a larger man taking items from an older-looking man, then kicking him and pushing him to the ground.
"I thought he was going to kill him actually," Thompson said. "I believe if I hadn't intervened, he was definitely going to kill him or at least cause brain damage."
The video shows Thompson yelling at the man to stop, as the older man clings to his belongings. The larger man appears to remain belligerent.
"He was going to do what he was going to do and nobody was going to stop him," Thompson said. "The older guy was on the ground. He was hitting him and he was kicking him in his chest, kicking him in his face. He (the older man) was bleeding, he looked pretty bad. He had no chance. He had no chance against that guy who had muscles."
Finally, the larger man grabbed a few of the older mans things and ran off. Chico Police arrived at the scene, but say the victim did not want to cooperate, so no one was arrested.
Thompson says, despite the dangers of getting involved in a fight like this, it was the right thing to do.
"Transient or not, you don't deserve to be beaten like that or killed in the back of Safeway just because you don't have nowhere to live," he said.