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San Francisco art gallery owner arrested after spraying homeless woman with water


(SAN FRANCISCO) — A San Francisco art gallery owner was arrested Wednesday after he was seen spraying a homeless woman with water earlier this month, authorities said.

The incident in question occurred in broad daylight on Jan. 9, outside the Foster Gwin Gallery in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. A bystander captured 71-year-old Shannon Collier Gwin on video using a hose to spray a homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk in front of his gallery.

The San Francisco Police Department said in a press release that its officers were deployed to the scene that day, just before noon, after receiving a 911 call about a “possible assault.” Upon arrival, the officers met with Gwin and the unidentified woman, who police said “were involved in a dispute.” Both parties were “interviewed” and “declined further police action at that time,” according to police.

The San Francisco Street Crisis Response Team, which helps people experiencing mental health and substance use crises on the streets, also responded to the scene and offered “multiple service options to the victim,” police said.

Video of the incident went viral online and Gwin’s art gallery was subsequently vandalized, according to San Francisco ABC station KGO.

KGO spoke with Gwin after the incident, who at first did not appear to show any remorse.

“I find it hard to apologize when we’ve had no help on this situation,” Gwin told KGO on Jan. 9.

Days later, Gwin did offer an apology for his actions.

“I’m deeply apologetic and abhorred when I watch that video. I completely broke. I’m not equipped or trained to deal with the long-term, city wide problem like this,” he told KGO late Sunday. “I’m committed to making amends and helping others. That’s what I can do and what I will do.”

Ultimately, investigators found probable cause to obtain an arrest warrant for Gwin, police said. On Wednesday, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office issued the warrant and police took Gwin into custody. He was charged with misdemeanor battery and booked into the San Francisco County Jail, according to police and the district attorney.

“The alleged battery of an unhoused member of our community is completely unacceptable. Mr. Gwin will face appropriate consequences for his actions,” San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement Wednesday. “Likewise, the vandalism at Foster Gwin gallery is also completely unacceptable and must stop — two wrongs do not make a right.”

Gwin is scheduled to be arraigned at San Francisco’s Hall of Justice on Feb. 17 at 9 a.m. local time. If convicted, he faces up to six months in county jail and a $2,000 fine. It was unclear whether he has retained a lawyer.

Police said in Wednesday’s press release that the investigation remains “open and active.”

ABC News’ Alex Stone contributed to this report.

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