According to recent figures, more than 630,000 Americans are homeless, of which as many as 250,000 suffer from some sort of mental illness. The combination can make the streets a dangerous place. And while there is a growing epidemic of crimes committed against homeless people, they aren’t always that innocent, particularly those with untreated mental illnesses. In fact, according to the Associated Press, there are many more people with untreated severe psychiatric illnesses living on America’s streets.
“You have a lot of homeless (emotionally-disturbed people), a lot of cases like the guy with the knife in Times Square who was shot down by the cops,” a New York police officer said to the New York Post. “They should put these people in hospitals, mental wards. But you can’t force them to go unless they are a danger to themselves or somebody else.”
And celebrities are not exempt from that danger. Whether being stalked, attacked or threatened, plenty of celebrities have had their run-ins with the homeless, most of whom were probably mentally ill. Are celebrities more susceptible than the general population? It’s hard to know for sure, but for the following 10 victims, their star status didn’t help them any when it came to being attacked by a homeless person.
This is 10 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Attacked By Homeless People.
She may have made more recent headlines when her homeless brother slammed her to the press, but Madonna had very real issues with a homeless person in 1995 when she was stalked by a man who threatened to kill the pop star if she didn’t marry him. Robert Hoskins was ultimately shot by Madonna’s bodyguard as the vagrant attempted to scale the wall of her Lake Hollywood estate, arrested and convicted of stalking, leading to a 10-year prison sentence. After Hoskins was released from prison, he was remanded to a psychiatric hospital, where he later escaped, having set his sights on actress Halle Berry.
9. Actor Zac Efron
Efron engaged in a physical altercation with a homeless man in early 2014 while in Los Angeles’ Skid Row area. According to Efron, the man attacked his friend as they were looking for a place to eat in the early morning hours. When their car ran out of gas, the pair called Uber for a ride. But as they were waiting, Efron experienced what he called “the most terrifying moment” of his life.
“A homeless guy, or vagrant, tapped on the driver’s-side window,” Efron later told the Hollywood Reporter. “Before I knew it, he [the friend] was out of the car, and they started fighting. I saw that [the homeless man] was carrying some sort of a knife, or shank, and I got out of the car to disarm him. At some point, he dropped the knife, and I got hit pretty hard in the face — and almost instantly the police were there to break up the fight.”
8. Athlete and Host Michael Strahan
A 25-year-old homeless man was arrested in 2014 after demanding to be allowed on the set of Good Morning America to see Michael Strahan. When guards turned him away, Andre Johnson soon returned wielding a knife and threatening to kill the former New York Giants’ defensive end and current co-host of Live! with Kelly and Michael. Fortunately, he was contained and apprehended by a security guard and a police officer. Johnson was later charged with felony attempted assault, menacing in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon. He was also taken for a psychiatric evaluation.
7. NCIS Star Pauley Perrete
The actress, best known for playing forensic specialist Abby Sciuto on CBS’ NCIS, wasn’t far from her Hollywood Hills home Nov. 12 when she was suddenly and brutally attacked by a homeless man. Perette, 46, described the attack by what she called a “psychotic” homeless person on her Twitter account, claiming she was grateful to be alive.
“He grabbed me so forcefully, pinned my arm, punched me in the nose, forehead repeatedly telling me he was going to kill me. Then he showed me how he was going to kill me,” Perette wrote. “There was an empty garage behind me and I knew if he got me in there I was dead. I knew I couldn’t overcome him.”
In a sad test of humanity, Perette wasn’t even rescued once she broke free from the garage, collapsing on the ground. Apparently, a man walked right by her, ignoring the actress completely, even after his dog licked her as they passed. But Perette hasn’t let the incident mar her view of fellow humans.
“We need full mental health care. We need housing and help for the homeless,” she tweeted. “We need to support our cops. We need to not walk alone. I need to heal. I almost died tonight.”
6. Musician LeAnn Rimes
A homeless woman attacked the country music starlet as she left a Beverly Hills doctor’s office in 2010. Wary of photographers, Rimes was covering her face when the woman decided to help her out. The homeless woman, who referred to herself as the “Queen on the Scene,” is known for trying to protect celebrities from the paparazzi. But Rimes felt she didn’t need any assistance covering her face and felt the woman was doing more harm than good by jumping all over her. Once Rimes escaped the woman, she had her arrested. Rimes apparently harbored no ill will toward the homeless after the attack, however. She included several of Chicago’s homeless children in the video for her 2011 single, Give, and partnered with the city’s Stand Up For Kids’ organization, with the goal of serving homeless children and youth through several outreach programs.
5. Musicians Jay McGuiness and Siva Kaneswaran
The Wanted‘s Siva Kaneswaran and Jay McGuiness had just finished watching the Johnny Depp film Transendence while in Denver in early 2014 when they were attacked outside the theater. The pair stopped to offer a homeless man some change when he pulled a knife, demanding more money. After a brief scuffle, the musicians, known for hits such as Glad You Came, were able to escape the attack unscathed. The British band was in the United States for its 2014 farewell tour. The group, which also includes members Max George, Tom Parker and Nathan Sykes, announced it was temporarily splitting in 2014 to pursue personal endeavors. While numerous media outlets reported the attack, The Wanted officially denied the incident on its Twitter account.
Still, an unnamed source told the UK’s Daily Star, “a shabby-looking man approached Jay and Siva and asked them for money. Siva gave him a few dollars, but the man kept asking for more.”
The source continued, “he then turned aggressive and pulled out of a knife,” adding that the man began “swinging it around violently,” and “the knife actually got quite close to them at one point. The lads were shocked and horrified.”
4. Pop Star Kim Kardashian
While there are probably plenty of people who fantasize about reaching out and grabbing a luscious chunk of Kardashian’s rear end, one homeless man attempted to actually do it in 2014. As she prepared to enter a car parked on a Paris street, the homeless man decided to take his chance to reach out and grab a hunk of her world-famous derriere, when a nearby photographer intercepted the assault.
3. Pro Golfer Robert Allenby
As Australian professional golfer Robert Allenby, 43, was in Honolulu, Hawaii for the 2015 Sony Open, he claimed a homeless man kidnapped, beat and robbed him outside of a popular wine bar late at night. But two homeless suspects told police Allenby was passed out when they found him. The pair insisted that although Allenby kept accusing them of stealing his wallet, they had nothing to do with the theft. A third homeless person later confirmed their story, and a homeless woman ultimately helped Allenby, who had by that point fallen and injured his own face. Police investigating the incident later found that after Allenby left the wine bar he spent $3,400 at a nearby strip club. Allenby eventually conceded his memory of the night’s events was likely flawed because of the concussion he received upon his fall, but also persisted in his claims that he was drugged. Another man was ultimately arrested for fraudulent use of Allenby’s credit card.
2. Hawaii Rep. Tom Brower
The Hawaii state representative made headlines in 2013 when he took a sledgehammer to countless abandoned shopping carts that homeless people used to carry their belongings. According to Brower, 50, he wasn’t attacking the homeless, but instead making a statement about cleanliness. Apparently turnabout is fair play, because earlier this year Brower was assaulted by a whole group of homeless people as he was videotaping a large homeless encampment. After he was asked to stop the recording, Brower was attacked, suffering a concussion and two swollen eyes. His camera was also stolen.
1. Pro Surfer Stephanie Gilmore
The four-time ASP World Champion surfer was just returning home one evening in 2010 when she was attacked by a homeless assailant. Gilmore fought back and screamed, causing the man to flee the scene, but not before she suffered a fractured wrist, lacerations to her head and a concussion. The suspect was soon apprehended by several of Gilmore’s neighbors, who chased him as he fled on bicycle. The man, who had a history of paranoid schizophrenia, was later arrested, tried and sentenced to four years in prison. The damage had been done, however, and Gilmore finished fifth in the 2011 ASP season before bouncing back in 2012.