At about 9:30 a.m. on Friday, August 13, at the Grand Avenue lifeguard tower, a homeless man named Sonny was distraught. He claimed that lifeguards had stolen his belongings off the beach. The lifeguards told him city trash collectors came by and took away his things. Sonny insisted that the lifeguards stole his stuff and called the police.
Police responded and questioned Sonny, then went inside the lifeguard tower to take a statement from lifeguards. Upon returning, the police informed Sonny that there was nothing they could do because he hadn't see anyone take his belongings.
The animosity between Sonny and the lifeguards seemed to have been precipitated by an incident the day before in which Sonny reported that lifeguards refused him treatment for a broken toe.