It seems that multiple other victims have come forward with stories about Austin James Vincent, the apparently homeless, reportedly mentally ill 25-year-old man accused in the August 11 assault of SoMa resident Paneez Kosarian. And one of those cases is resulting in Vincent surrendering to police custody today.
As ABC 7 reports Monday morning, Vincent was already scheduled for a court appearance today to discuss compliance with an ankle-monitoring order last week, but he's now expected to surrender in a case that dates back to February, after a victim identified him from his mugshot being in the news. In that case, the female victim and several friends were confronted by Vincent near 4th and Brannan Streets while they waited for a rideshare vehicle to arrive. They allege that Vincent threatened to kill them with a knife and chased them into their car, and though police were called to the scene at the time, the victims were gone and did not give a report.
They and two other victims have come forward with similar stories, which may mean that more charges will get filed against Vincent in the coming days — and this temporarily takes some heat off Judge Christine Van Aken, who was at the center of outcries last week by police, Kosarian, the media, and the DA's office for her decision to let a potentially violent person roam free pending a court appearance that's weeks away.
As the Chronicle reports, Vincent was expected at a 9 a.m. hearing in San Francisco Superior Court on Monday, at which he would be remanded in custody on a $100,000 warrant. His public defender over the weekend released a cleaned-up photo of Vincent in a suit, in order to contrast with the crazed, wide-eyed mugshot photo (left) that has circulated widely in the media.
Both the Central and Southern SFPD districts are reportedly investigating other incidents in which victims came forward with stories after spotting Vincent's mugshot in news reports, per ABC 7.
The case is the latest flashpoint in the city's longstanding debate about treatment of the homeless, and how to address street safety. Enough SF residents have had encounters with frightening and/or threatening individuals on the street, even if they have not been attacked, that the case has highlighted a persistent feeling that law enforcement in general is incapable of grappling with such widespread mental illness — and possible drug use — that is going untreated.
Kosarian, 26, alleges that Vincent blocked her from entering her building on August 11, asking for her phone and wallet but also telling her he would kill the front desk attendant in the lobby because she was a robot. He then proceeded to physically assault her and pull her to the ground when she tried to get into her own front door — and incident that was captured on video as shown below.
Both Vincent's public defender and Judge Van Aken stood by the argument last week that mental illness is better treated outside the jail system, while the DA's office argued that the severity of the charges should have meant that Vincent was automatically kept in jail pending trial.
Kosarian, meanwhile, has joined the Safe Embarcadero For All group that is fighting the city to stop the construction of a homeless Navigation Center near her home. Proponents of the center and the Board of Supervisors contend that providing more shelter beds and access to treatment programs are the answer to solving the city's homeless crisis, but these residents have argued that such a facility will make the presence of the homeless in their vicinity worse and not better.
At a press conference with the well-funded group on Sunday, CBS SF reports Kosarian said, "It’s simply that that we just don’t feel safe and we have really good reasons, the city can no longer deny our concerns about safety."
Mayor London Breed issued a statement Sunday, still sticking to her guns, saying, "We know the data shows there is no link between the creation of a navigation center and an increase in crime in the surrounding area. Allowing people to suffer on the street without providing resources will only make the challenges we face more severe."