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Investigation into man performing medical services for homeless people

The man was using a fake name and claimed to be a former medic as he walked around treating homeless people in Phoenix.
Investigation into man performing medical services for homeless people
Posted at 9:02 AM, Nov 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-07 09:03:27-05

State health officials in Arizona have opened an investigation into a man who claimed to be helping some of the most vulnerable people in the state by providing medical services to those experiencing homelessness around Phoenix.

Scripps News Phoenix first spoke with the man, who introduced himself as Shane Benson, in July. We met him in Phoenix's homeless encampment known as the Zone, where he told our reporter that he is a former medic from upstate New York.

"I do everything from blood pressures to major wound cares to cardiac arrests here," he said.

Benson walked around with a cart of medical supplies that he called his drug box.

"My TikTok followers donated this cart. This cart goes everywhere for me," he said. "I can do everything from just a regular wound check out here to a full cardiac; I got a defibrillator."

All this was done while Benson walked around wearing a shirt that said EMS, wearing a stethoscope, and carrying around supplies. "I've got some IV supplies, airways," he said.

While we filmed Benson for a story in July, he walked around shouting "medical" as he asked people if they needed medical help.

Benson would livestream online while he would perform various medical services, including one video that was submitted to investigators that shows him poking and squeezing a man's apparent infected finger.

Another image submitted to investigators shows a screen grab from Benson's social media page where he shows that he's starting an IV inside a tent near downtown Phoenix with the caption "First IV started in the zone!"

In an interview, Benson said, "At the end of the day they need the help, they need that water, they need the medical services, we need to take care of them," said Benson. "And it takes a lot of pressure off Phoenix Fire Department as well."

Benson also said he has seen burns from the hot asphalt.

"Took care of a lady that was burnt on the asphalt," Benson said.

A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed the agency has an open investigation, but could not elaborate on what type of investigation it is.

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Jill Dillon is one of the people who filed complaints with several agencies about Benson.

"This man has to be stopped," she said. "He's going to hurt somebody badly."

Dillon was one of his online followers who felt inspired by the help she thought he was doing. She went out with him to the Zone, but she became concerned when she saw him doing wound care and giving IVs.

"I find Shane in somebody's makeshift tent starting an IV, or attempting to start an IV, on a gentleman. He is proceeding to stab this gentleman's hand. His wife is screaming. I'm just taken aback," Dillon said.

Dillon, who has worked in medical offices, said when Benson was going to start another IV, she called 911.

After Scripps News Phoenix's story aired, several viewers reached out, saying Benson isn't who he claims to be, and that his real name is Shane Burdick.

The Scripps News Phoenix Investigators were able to verify that Shane Burdick has several active warrants along the East Coast, including Virginia and Pennsylvania. In Virginia, Burdick was found guilty of grand larceny, and he is considered a fugitive. He was supposed to be in court several weeks ago for an arraignment for failing to pay restitution.

In Pennsylvania, Burdick has warrants for theft cases.

Burdick also told Scripps News Phoenix that he was raising money for a medical bike, with over $8,000 raised, but the company for the fire-rescue bike said that since they could not find any affiliation for him, they set the conditions that he must prepay for the bike, and they never heard from him again.

The Scripps News Phoenix Investigators also reached out to New York health officials, who say he was never certified as an EMT or paramedic. Burdick has no certifications in Arizona, either.

Two of Burdick's moderators on TikTok posted on social media his true identity, and he deleted several of his social media profiles. However, the moderators had videos and images that were also submitted to investigators, including the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

A spokesperson for the Arizona Attorney General's Office did not comment on our story.

The Scripps News Phoenix Investigators reached out to Burdick at a phone number he provided us previously but it was disconnected. We also reached out to an email for him, but he did not respond.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Phoenix.


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