Aggressive panhandler dubbed 'Gas Can Man' back working on Houston streets

The panhandler authorities have referred to as the "Gas Can Man" is back working on Houston. The man has a reputation for carrying a red gas can and can be aggressive, even violent, when people turn down his requests for money or a ride.

"He’s using that gas can to convince people that he probably has a vehicle that’s stranded," said Harris County Constables Pct. 2 Lt. Marco Leal. "He’s probably giving you the sad story, when really in fact there’s no story behind it. He’s just taking the public for a ride."

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Many people we met Friday in Northeast Houston seemed to know, or have had run-ins, with him.

"He was just asking [for money] and I’m like no," said Brianna Soto. "The light turned green. So, I went and he flicked me off. I thought he was going to do something because he ran to my car."

On Thursday, a Houston man had a violent encounter with the panhandler and recorded it on video. 

"At first he seemed nice, but everyone knows who he is on the East Side," said Eduardo Montelongo. "He came and said, "Can I get some gas?" Apparently his motorcycle got [repossessed]."


According to Montelongo, the "Gas Can Man" asked for a ride to Baytown. However, Montelongo says he told him no.

"He spit into my car then he spit on me," said Montelongo.

At some point, Montelongo claims the man dropped a tablet. Montelongo says he grabbed it and the "Gas Can Man" became frustrated and threw rocks at his vehicle. Montelongo gave him the tablet back before the two went separate directions.

"He has a lot of names," said Montelongo. "The gas tank guy. El chico tanque de gas."

Roughly four years ago, Harris County Pct. 8 Constables posted a warning on Facebook about the person they called the "Gas Can Man."  In the post, they urged people to "not buy into his scam" and identified the man as Luz Alfred Garcia. According to police records, he’s been arrested roughly 40 times for charges relating to theft, trespassing, obstructing highways, and assaulting a peace officer.

"Don’t roll down your window or engage in a conversation with those panhandling," said Lt. Leal. "Think about your safety most importantly. If they become aggressive, leave the area."

Montelongo says he called police about the incident because the rocks damaged his car and Garcia could be charged with criminal mischief.

Garcia is currently out of jail on bond for a charge of retaliation. He’s due in court next week.