Max Zimmer said he was coming back from a construction job Tuesday when he took a turn too tightly and skidded onto a curb not far from one of the city's largest makeshift homeless shelters.
Zimmer told KTVU2 that when he got out to check for damages to his truck, he was quickly surrounded by people living in the encampment across the street.
"There was definitely a moment where I was scared for my life," he said.
Zimmer said one of the men told him he had run over some agave plants he was trying to sell and the man demanded $300. Zimmer said he gave them the money he had on him – just a few bucks – but quickly found himself surrounded by at least 10 people, some carrying sticks and two-by-fours.
Then the beating began.
"I was in the fetal position for 30-45 seconds," he said. "They started busting out the windows with two-by-fours."
The 21-year-old said he was able to call 911 and his mother.
"I was in the fetal position for 30-45 seconds. They started busting out the widows with two-by-fours."
"By the time I got there, he was being chased by a man with an aluminum baseball bat," his mother, Tonya Zimmer, said. "There was another man slinging a mattress pump with a chord."
She saw authorities arrest at least one man. Oakland Police didn't have many details, but said the report is still being processed.
Local media at the scene reported seeing broken glass from the truck windows, tire tracks and a piece of splintered wood.
"I feel Oakland is letting that behavior run wild," Zimmer said.
Oakland has seen a 47 percent jump in homelessness, one of the largest surges of any California city, according to a one-night street count released in July. The count, which uses federal guidelines, showed Oakland had 4,071 homeless people in 2019, up from 2,761 in 2017. The increase puts the city's per capita homeless rate higher than neighboring San Francisco and Berkeley, and comes as several West Coast cities struggle with a homeless crisis driven by rising rents, drug addiction, mental illness and pushback from progressives.
The Point-In-Time Count also found that the number of people living in their vehicles had more than doubled, skyrocketing 131 percent. At the beginning on 2019, there were 1,430 people living in vehicles, up from 618 in 2017. Roughly half called their cars and vans home while the others sought shelter in recreational vehicles.
The increase in homelessness doesn't surprise city officials, residents or business owners Fox News spoke with late last year. They said they have watched the city gradually deteriorate.
In November, Oakland city crews pulled 250 tons of trash and debris out of the Fruitvale Home Depot encampment.
"It'll blow your mind," Oakland Councilman Noel Gallo told Fox News. He estimated 80 people live at the camp.
In a recent interview, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff told KQED News that the city is "trying to resolve that encampment in a way that's effective and compassionate and that is the tightrope that I as mayor have to walk every day."