The feud between downtown Sarasota merchants and the vagrants frequenting Main Street got physical Saturday evening.
Robert Robinson, a 53-year-old homeless man, allegedly threw Vom Fass owner Robert Kay through his storefront window during a scuffle before 8 p.m. Saturday. Kay was treated for a 6-inch laceration on his bicep, according to a Sarasota Police Department affidavit.
Robinson had been harassing customers and using obscenities in front of the gourmet store. When Kay asked him to leave, Robinson punched him in the face, and both men fell through the window after a short struggle, according to witnesses.
Police charged Robinson, who had been booked into the Sarasota County Jail 12 times prior to the incident, with battery after emergency personnel Sarasota Memorial Hospital treated him for cuts.
Main Street merchants say their storefronts have become the new hotspot for many vagrants — and their businesses have been hurt as a result.
Members of the Sarasota Downtown Merchants Association say the 1300, 1400 and 1500 blocks of Main Street have seen a greater homeless presence in recent weeks and that illegal activity has gone unchecked on the streets. Three downtown merchants appeared at the May 19 City Commission meeting to ask the city to crack down on the issues.