Thousands of cars cross over the South Church Street bridge daily in Murfreesboro, but most will never realize an entire community lives under that roadway.
For the third time this year, a homeless person has been attacked under the South Church Street bridge near Middle Tennessee Boulevard. A recent police report filed this past week shows that the victim had his only mode of transportation stolen, his bike. The man said that when he confronted the suspect who is also homeless, he was jumped by a group of four to five men.
After WGNS received the third such report of crime on public property next to the Benevolent Cemetery and under the South Church Street bridge, we decided to further investigate. We headed down to the location to learn what the living conditions were like. To get to the area we drove down an access road that can easily be reached from South Church at the base of the bridge near an auto paint and body shop. As we pulled under the bridge, we witnessed several homeless people run. Another homeless person approached our vehicle. While we did not discuss the crime at hand, we learned that up to 20-persons are living under the bridge.
WGNS found that the group of people living under the bridge have a fire to keep warm at night that is near the railroad tracks. About 200-feet away from the bridge is a small abandoned structure that also houses homeless. A fire pit is inside that building as well. One of the persons we talked to, told us he was from California and he moved to this area to “follow his dream,” although he did not specify what that dream was. Shortly after our conversation with him, he evidently wrote on his body with a marker that he needed food and “Smokes.” He then walked to the corner of South Church and Middle Tennessee Boulevard and waived for motorist to stop and give him assistance. On his stomach we read "H2O plus Wood." Several other items were written on his body, but the letters did not actually make real words.
One of the persons WGNS spoke with asked that we inform the community that they are living under the bridge. When asked why, he told us that they were having a hard time and needed help. While help may indeed be needed, it is in no way suggested that anyone take it upon themselves to visit the encampment alone or even with groups. Reports of crime have been recorded at the site and the reports are on file at the Murfreesboro Police Department. It should be noted that we have not found reports of any arrests made at the campsite, only reports of assaults being committed.
You can see photos of the living conditions and the subject who wrote on his body at WGNSradio.com.
BELOW: Area where the homeless camp on a daily basis
MPD Incident Report #13-20622