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Venice Beach Restaurant Owner Recovers After Homeless Man Bites Off Part Of His Finger

VENICE BEACH ( — The owner of a Venice Beach restaurant is recovering Saturday after he got into a fight with a homeless man with the transient biting off a part of his finger.

KCAL9's Cristy Fajardo sat down with the stunned restaurant owner.

"To bite somebody is animalistic," said Clabe Hartley, "Humans don't do that."

Hartley says when his fingertip was bitten off Saturday morning he saw some of the worst in man.

"He left some of the bone," he told Fajardo, still shaking from the incident.

Hartley is grateful for an outpouring from friends and customers. And also grateful to the people who came to his defense.

"I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in this planet," he said.

Hartley, who owns the Cow's End Cafe,  says a transient was harassing customers -- he even allegedly took someone's drink.

"He was telling people 'Give me money, give me money now,' very aggressively in their face," Hartley says.

That's why Hartley says he politely told the man he wouldn't serve him. And says that's when things took a turn

"He hit me in the face, you can see," says Hartley, "he hit me in the face several times before we went down to the ground."

Hartley. 72,  already had a hand and ankle in a sling from a recent motorcycle accident.

He was quickly  overpowered by the transient. He told Fajardo the homeless guy was huge (about 6"5') and about 50 years his junior. Another reason Hartley's grateful to bystanders who came to help.

"Three men came over and tried to hold him down. Two guys went on his legs. One was on his other arm. A customer said, 'He bit you.' And he spit it out."

Forty stitches and a skin graft later, Hartley said he wants to get the word out.

"You have to be aware," he said.More aggressive transients are making their way to Venice, he said, and that's making it  bad for everyone, including other transients.

Only when the adrenaline subsided and the suspect was in handcuffs did Hartley notice he was gushing blood.

Security is enough of a concern local merchants say they are getting together to address it.

"We are going to have a meeting on Monday. Maybe even hire private security because police can only be down here so much," says merchant David Boren.

Police on Sunday identified the suspect as 31-year-old Jonathan Lemons. The suspect has been booked for suspicion of aggravated mayhem.

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