Man accused of menacing women with knife, choking dog at Athens homeless camp


Fernando Joaquin Patterson

By Joe Johnson

A homeless man has been formally accused of threatening two women with a knife and strangling a dog in a camp in the North Oconee River Park three months ago.

Fernando Joaquin Patterson, 41, was charged with one count each of aggravated assault, cruelty to animals and obstruction of law enforcement, according to an accusation filed Sept. 24 in Clarke County Superior Court by the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office.

The accusation stems from Paterson’s arrest on June 26, after he allegedly tried to steal another homeless person’s tent, while the 59-year-old woman who was minding the tent for its owner was rinsing off at the nearby river.

According to an Athens-Clarke County police report, when the woman returned from the river, she saw Patterson choking her small, 15-pound dog and she swung a tent pole at Patterson to make him stop.

Patterson then dropped the dog and began to charge at the woman with a knife, but another resident of the camp, a 42-year-old woman stepped in the way to stop Patterson, who knocked her to the ground, according to the report.

When the woman got up, Patterson allegedly swung the knife at her before she retreated to safety and called 911. Patterson then grabbed the tent and walked away with it, according to the report.

When officers arrived, they saw Patterson on the North Avenue bridge, dragging the tent that he claimed was his, the report noted.

When officers told him he was under arrest, Patterson reportedly placed his hands on his chest in a “mummy pose” and ignored repeated demands to place his hands behind his back.

After being warned that he would be tased if he continued to resist, Petterson began walking away, at which time the officers used Tasers on the man and placed him in handcuff, according to the report.

At the time, Patterson was charged with two counts of aggravated assault for menacing the women with the knife, but those two actions were combined into a single count of aggravated assault in the charging document that was filed in court by the DA’s office.

Three weeks after Patterson was arrested, a Superior Court judge denied him bond on grounds he would pose a risk to others and would likely commit a felony pending trial.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 25.

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