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Police: Man arrested in violent attack of homeless man

Published On: Jun 18 2013 11:01:59 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 21 2013 02:40:04 PM CDT

Dane County Sheriff's Dept.

Justin Brooks, 32


Police said a 61-year-old homeless man suffered life-threatening injuries when he was beaten outside downtown near the Capitol.

The Madison Police Department said a significantly injured man was found on a North Pinckney Street sidewalk early Tuesday across the street from the State Capitol.

A witness, who had been sleeping on a nearby bench, told police he awoke to see another man battering the 61-year-old in the head at about 2:30 a.m.

Officials say Justin T. Brooks, 32, of Madison was arrested after witnesses to the attack were interviewed.

Brooks is tentatively charged with one count of attempted homicide, according to the release.

According to the report, the man was sleeping in the area at the time of the assault.

“We don’t believe that there’s any danger to the public because of this incident,” said Joel DesPain, Madison Police Department spokesperson. “It was very targeted. It was someone who was sleeping downtown and someone came up and began to batter him and specifically targeted him.”

For many of Madison’s homeless residents, the benches and sidewalks near the Capitol are their homes.

That’s where Ed Fiorito, a friend of the victim, lives.

Fiorito said he was shocked to hear one of his neighbors had been attacked.

“This cop comes up to me at 5 in the morning and wakes me up. He says ‘what are you doing.’ I said ‘sleeping.’ He said ‘what do you know about what happened on the Capitol square? Somebody got beat up bad, real bad there,” said Fiorito.

Officials said the victim has significant, life-threatening head injuries and has not regained consciousness.

“I want my buddy to be OK. He may die. He’s clinging to his life in the hospital,” said Fiorito.

Area residents say the incident hasn’t scared them away from downtown.

“I don’t feel nervous coming down here,” said Rick Gilbertsen. “I haven’t had any confrontations or incidents with anyone.”

“I actually walked home from a friend’s house really late last night and I felt fine,” said Savanna Jensen.

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