CLEVELAND COUNTY, Okla. - Michael McAuley said he doesn’t really consider himself homeless.
“Just houseless. I mean, I got a home. It’s just not a typical home,” McAuley said.
McAuley said he’d been in the same camping spot in a wooded area of rural Cleveland County for about eight months with no complaints.
But, early Saturday morning, two men slashed his tent and tarps - and attacked him with metal pipes.
“They shredded my tent. I mean, they took razors and knives to it,” McAuley said. “It’s where I lived, you know.”
Jamie Tedder and Carl Wilson were both arrested for the alleged attack and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and malicious injury to property.
McAuley said he was actually friends with Wilson and had originally come to Oklahoma to help him fix up his trailer four years ago.
He said the attack was completely unprovoked.
“Minding my own business, you know. Helping people out when they need it,” McAuley said.
Dan Staughan, the executive director of the Homeless Alliance, said around 100 homeless people are killed every year across the country.
The attack on McAuley saddens him, but it’s not a surprise.
“I’m not surprised. That population is more vulnerable to acts of violence,” Straughan said.
Straughan said they are always working to curb the problem.
“The best way to curb that problem is to get people in housing where they are sheltered and they have some protection,” Straughan said.
“They were trying to hurt me,” said McAuley, who was able to get away with only a few scrapes and bruises. “Take what you can salvage, and just move on, you know."
McAuley said he’s already been thinking about finding a home with four walls.
“Maybe, I’m going to raise a family. I don’t know,” McAuley said. “Thinking about giving up the woods.”
For now, he’s sheltering in a nearby wooded area in a tent that someone gave him, hoping to live his simple life without anyone bothering him.