City of Phoenix convening leadership after violent week at ‘The Zone’

Phoenix officials promise to address the problems in "The Zone" as violence spikes in the homeless encampment.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:30 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A woman was shot and killed in Phoenix’s “The Zone,” one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments, on Wednesday. In a separate case, two men were accused of beating and burning a man to death in a dumpster in the same encampment. Sources told Arizona’s Family that firefighters won’t even go into The Zone without a police escort. You might remember, back in November, that first responders found a dead baby boy on the street. “It’s heartbreaking if you want to know the truth,” said Brock Bevell, a former police officer and now a counselor with Victory Recovery. Bevell used to work in the narcotics division only to find himself in the grip of opioid addiction after getting injured on the job. Now he’s 13 years sober.

Bevell runs Victory Recovery while providing outreach to the homeless, speaking directly to the people trying to stay alive. “A lot of people I interview, I talk to use fentanyl so they don’t sleep. They use meth so they don’t sleep at night so they don’t get robbed or beat up,” said Bevell. “I know there are a lot of blues that happen around there,” said Crystal McDonald, who explained “blues” is a street name for fentanyl. McDonald stays at a nearby shelter right next to The Zone. She believes the majority are good people who live in the tents but she wouldn’t dare to stay in The Zone. “A lot of gun shots, a lot of people hurting people,” said McDonald. “I’m a woman so people coming into the tents when your by yourself is not safe.” It’s an out-of-control situation, according to Bevell. He hopes state leaders step up. “If I was the mayor or city councilmember, I would be embarrassed if I came down here,” said Bevell.

In response to this week’s violence, a spokesperson for the City of Phoenix said leadership will be meeting to address this crisis. “Our urgent priority is helping connect unsheltered individuals around human services campus with safe, indoor housing options and resources to end homelessness.” Lastly, the city said they added nearly 600 new shelter beds in 2022, and 800 will be available this year and into the next. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you can find resources by clipping/tapping here.