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      Syracuse panhandler shares his story after two homeless deaths in two weeks

      Many people may know him as the man they try to ignore at the Teall Avenue exit ramp from Interstate 690, but his name is Mark Batsford.

      Batsford stands on the street corner every day, hoping that people driving by will be able to spare some change. In some cases, he's subjected to cruelty.

      "A woman rode by. She was in the third lane over," says Batsford. "She came all the way over just to tell me I was a bum. I've been hit with quarters, nickels, pennies."

      Batsford says he's been living on the streets since December. He was in prison, serving a sentence for robbery. He says when he got released, he couldn't get back on his feet.

      Now, he spends nights in a fort in the woods, made out of blankets, towels, and tarps. It's not that different from the camp homeless man Tim Wilkin set up before he died in a fire, while trying to keep himself warm about a week ago.

      Batsford says Wilkin was a friend of his, and while he was trying to heal from the emotional scars of losing his friend, he received physical scars. A man beat Batsford up for the seven dollars he had in his pocket.

      Even with his injuries, Batsford continues to stand at Teall Avenue every day.

      "That's what I live on," he says. "Every dollar, every quarter, every penny you throw at me, I'll take."

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