‘While You Were Sleeping’: A look at those who are ‘Sleepless on San Pedro Avenue’

A street just north of downtown is a hotbed of activity around the clock

SAN ANTONIO – If it weren’t for the stars in the sky, it might be tough to tell 3 p.m. from 3 a.m. along one strip of San Pedro Avenue just north of downtown.

The section between Interstate 35 and Cypress Street is teaming with activity all around the clock.

“There's always some type of commotion that’s happening in this area,” said Michael Montalbo one recent morning as he and his friends left a nearby nightclub.

No sooner had he spoken those words than a car zipped past him, blasting its horn.

Montalbo said he often stops at one of the fast food restaurants along San Pedro for a middle-of-the-night snack.

With it, he says, usually comes a show full of colorful characters.

Lavelle Lemon has seen them too as he waits at a nearby bus stop on his way to work.

“You know you're only one step from Haven for Hope, so there are many street folks that way,” he said, gesturing. “I've met many people out here. Some ok, some not ok. But that's life.”

While you were sleeping San Pedro Avenue image.
While you were sleeping San Pedro Avenue image. (KSAT)

Lemon, a Mississippi native and military veteran, said he is not too far removed from street life, himself.

He recently got back on his feet after a bout of homelessness.

Homeless people, though, are only part of the picture.

San Antonio police say they see all kinds of incidents in that area all around the clock.

According to SAPD statistics, officers responded to more than 200 calls along the 300 block of San Pedro, alone, within a six month period between August 2019 and January 2020.

Most of the complaints were for disturbances, although panhandling and assaults also were high on the list of repeat calls.

The records also show those incidents happened at all hours of the day and night.

Early one recent morning, a KSAT 12 News crew stumbled upon a death investigation.

Police said a passerby discovered the body of a man outside a business who apparently had overdosed on drugs.

When it comes to trouble in the area, Montalbo would rather steer clear.

“It is what it is, I guess,” he said. “You just mind your own business. Do you own thing.”

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