Encinitas Coffee Shop Owner Grazed By Bullet From Own Weapon After Altercation With Transient

Business owners and community activists say the incident underscores the problems created by a growing number of homeless in the community

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The owner of an Encinitas coffee shop is recovering from a graze wound to his neck after his personal firearm was discharged during an altercation with a homeless man.

The altercation set off a dramatic chain of events that ended with the homeless man being taken down by several firefighters at a nearby fire station.

It happened around 8 a.m., at Ironsmith Coffee Roasters on South Coast Highway Thursday.

According to Sheriff’s investigators, the homeless man, identified as Jmar Tarafa, 21, was asked to leave the coffee shop after causing a disturbance.

“A verbal argument followed in the back alley of the business, then turned into a fight. During the altercation, the coffee shop owner produced a gun. The gun went off once during the struggle,” according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.

The bullet grazed the coffee shop owner in the back of his neck. A bystander was also hit in the leg with shrapnel, according to investigators. Both injuries are considered minor, and both were discharged from the hospital.

After the suspect grabbed the gun, he chased the owner about a half block away to an Encinitas fire station, according to witnesses.

Cell phone video shot by a witness shows at least three firefighters telling the suspect to drop the gun. He is eventually thrown to the ground.

“My jaw dropped. I was so shocked. That’s really terrifying and I just feel for the business. I was excited to get my coffee and that’s just horrible. It’s really scary. I just can’t believe it," said Lele Gilliard, a regular customer at the coffee shop.

Meanwhile, other business owners say many of the growing numbers of homeless in Encinitas are becoming more aggressive and a nuisance.

One business owner, who did not want to be identified, says he’s caught homeless people shoplifting and what’s worse, defecating on storefront property.

A Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant tells NBC 7 that crime among the homeless has been occurring more compared to past years, but it hasn’t been a significant increase.

“This does not surprise me whatsoever,” said Natalie Settoon, a community activist who has become outspoken on the homeless issue ever since a confrontation with a local transient.

As many cities in San Diego County grapple with a growing homeless crisis, Encinitas has been proactive in its effort to help the homeless with outreach and services.

But Settoon sees that as part of the problem.

“Rather than address homelessness, our council fails to do so. They implement programs that entice the homeless here to Encinitas and they make it comfortable. We’ve given them a soft place to land,” said Settoon.

Tarafa was arrested and booked in county jail for assault with a deadly weapon and brandishing a firearm in a threatening manner.

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