NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Questions raised after homeless man dies at city’s new safe sleeping site

'We all need to look out for each other maybe a little more'
Posted at 7:08 PM, Nov 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-03 22:09:03-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A homeless man staying at a city-owned sleeping site in Golden Hill was found dead at the end of September prompting a police investigation into how he died.

Ralph Threatt, 65, died inside a tent on a parking lot set up for the homeless at the 20th and B street operations yard, Team 10 has confirmed.

The parking lot, which the city calls a safe sleeping site for the homeless, opened in June. The site is operated by the Dreams for Change non-profit and has tents, cots, restrooms and showers for the homeless.

"I think that's very unfortunate that someone passed away and that we're just now finding out. I think we all have questions. What kind of welfare checks are occurring during the day?" asked homeless advocate Amie Zamudio.

Threatt’s death was never publicized. Team 10 learned about it after getting a tip.

Zamudio said while she considers the site a better alternative to San Diego streets, she is worried about the people who are living at the location.

“I know that there's been a lot of concern about the lack of shade. The heat, I'm feeling the heat right now myself,” she said standing on hot concrete Friday near the entrance to the site.

Shawn Swearingen is homeless and has been staying at the operations yard. He said Threatt was dead for some time before being found on September 20th.

“What was sad was that nobody even knew who he was or if he belonged here,” he told Team 10 investigator Austin Grabish.

“That just kind of struck me as just not right,” he added.

Swearingen said he’s received medical care and been checked on by staff at the sleeping site. Still, the death has left him shaken.

“We all need to just look out for each other maybe a little more.”

The cause of death has not yet been released by the Medical Examiner’s Office. It is currently under investigation by police, said City of San Diego director of communications Nicole Darling.

She added when people enter the city’s safe sleeping program, they sign an agreement that says drug and alcohol use on site are not permitted.

The Medical Examiner’s Office expects a final report and autopsy results to be released in the new year.