Homeless camp demolition starts earlier than expected

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The old PSC Metals recycling building on Richards Street came tumbling down Saturday morning. Company workers said the building was operational until about four years ago. More recently, the homeless have camped in and around it.

"I grew up in this neighborhood and I was just curious to see what all the noise was about. I'm glad to see they're cleaning it up - maybe it will make it a safer place for the neighborhood," said a man who lives nearby.

Last month, Knoxville police charged Hope Warvi, Joshua Cool and Brandon Roberts with killing Collin Colbert, Ryan Gorney and Grace Standridge. All six lived in the homless camp. PSC workers said the city asked them to board up the building or tear it down, and they decided to demolish it to keep the community safe.

Knoxville police searched the building multiple times with canines and found a few homeless people still inside Saturday morning. They allowed them to get their belongings before demolition started.

The homeless community has mixed reactions about the building coming down:

"Hopefully there won't be any more murders - no more unsafe living habitat for the homeless," said Gaylene Goins, who is homeless.

"Homeless people need somewhere to live, you hear me?" said MIchael Best, who lives on the streets.

"Everybody gets out of home every day. But we always stand up on our feet because when one door closes, another one opens and you'll find somewhere to go," said Mandie Riley, who is also homeless.

PSC said it will take about two more weeks before the building is all the way down and everything is cleaned up.

The company said demolition work was actually supposed to start on Monday, but hazmat crews finished removing dangerous materials from the building earlier than expected, bumping up the start time.

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