■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
On Sunday, July 9 at about 5:45 p.m., the City of Hemet Public Safety Communications Center received a 911 call about an unresponsive male near Union Bank at 800 E. Florida Ave., adjacent to Weston Park. Hemet Fire Department personnel responded and located a deceased male lying near the bushes. Hemet Police responded and took over the investigation. Cause of death is still unknown, but preliminary Hemet Police and Riverside Sheriff Coroner Office’s investigations revealed no obvious signs of trauma or foul play. Toxicology reports are pending.
The coroner’s office identified the body as that of Michael Glen Perry, 49, known to Weston Park inhabitants as “Monkey Mike,” a local homeless man who was known to frequent Weston Park often for the past two decades.
Pastor Steve Norman of Hemet Christian Assembly had known Perry those past 18 years when he and his family moved to Hemet in 1999. After years of watching the park from afar, Norman eventually made his way across the street to introduce himself.
“To my surprise, Monkey Mike greeted me kindly and with respect,” recalled Norman. “That’s when my relationship with the Weston Park gang began.”
Despite having an estranged relationship with the occupants of the park, Norman and his church developed an odd friendship with Perry.
“He had a soft spot for us,” said Norman. Due to their “friendship,” Perry tried hard to regulate the vandalism that notoriously struck Norman’s church on a regular basis. “He always felt like a guardian of the church.”
According to Norman, most of Perry’s family lives in Texas, and he always had intentions of moving back. A step-sister of his sang worship for Hemet Christian Assembly for a period of time also. Perry’s mother, who lives in Guthrie, Oklahoma, was notified of her son’s death.
Please see the Opinion section in this issue for Pastor Steve Norman’s reflections and memories of Perry.