ABC15 confronts Valley panhandler claiming to need money for son's funeral

Posted at 9:41 PM, Jun 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-01 14:27:47-04

His sign is hard to miss and he has been spotted all over the Valley. He's asking for a free handout, but the reason tugs on your heartstrings -- he claims he needs it to pay for his son's funeral expenses.

ABC15 found out about the unidentified panhandler after a Facebook group reached out to the station, calling him a possible scammer.

A month ago, our cameras caught him at the corner of 67th Avenue and Loop 101, just down the street from a Phoenix police officer's funeral, trying to get money.

"How long have you been asking for money?” we asked.

“That's not the question,” the man said.

He refused to give us his name and was reluctant to talk to us on Wednesday. We tracked him down after an ABC15 viewer sent us video of him holding a sign at Interstate 17 and Greenway. 

"I’m not talking to you guys," the man said.

Questions about money were off limits and so was the reason why he needs the cash.

"Tell us about your son," ABC15 photojournalist Danny Bavaro asked.

The panhandler didn't say much as our camera followed him for a half-mile.

"We'd appreciate some answers,” ABC15 said.

“You're not going to get them today," the panhandler replied.

He even turned the tables on us.

"Why aren't you bothering him?” he said as he pointed to another panhandler across the street.

ABC15 talked to the other panhandler, who held a sign that said he has cancer.

"I see him everywhere. He's had the same exact sign with the same exact picture for two years," Steve Herring said of the man asking for money to fund his son's funeral.

Herring said guys like that make it harder for everyone else. 

"I'm dying of cancer, I only have five more months to live and I really need the help," Herring said.

Herring said he just needs some cash for a hotel room to get out of the rain. He hopes his competition is watching and decides to do the right thing.

"Just take yourself off the streets and let people who actually need to help get the help they need," said Herring.

Police say there is nothing they can do to stop that panhandler because nothing he is doing is illegal.