The man who said he's been living in the area around McKelligon Canyon for three years is squatting on city land.
“People come out here to barbecue, people come up here to sleep and camp out,” said the man who sat shirtless inside the cave he’s been using as his home. He declined to give his name. "This is Franklin Mountain State Park." Watch the full interview with the man here.
“I don’t know where exactly he’s living, but I know he’s not living in the state park," said Texas state park ranger Raul Gomez as he looked over a Google maps image of the area around McKelligon Canyon.
Gomez said the "cave" the man’s been living out of is actually an old collapsed water collection ditch that Gomez said sits on property belonging to the El Paso Water Utilities - Public Service Board.
A spokesman for EPWU was not immediately able to confirm if the land belonged to the PSB, but released a statement:
“Land records indicate a very intricate patchwork of property owners in the immediate area. El Paso Water Utilities staff will have to inspect the area to determine who owns the land. If it is land for which EPWU is responsible, staff will work with El Paso Police to immediately remove any trespassers.”
According to El Paso Police spokesman Mike Baranyay there’s a process the city has to complete before they could kick out the man.
Baranyay said that firstly, someone would have to file an official complaint, then police would have to inform the squatter and give him an opportunity to clear out on his own.
But the hardest part, Baranyay said, would be proving the man has been using the "cave" as a permanent residence.
“He says he's been living up here for three years but none of the hikers or mountain bikers who are out here have never seen here or said he's caused problems out here in McKelligon Canyon,” said Gomez.
While the future isn't clear for the man in the mountain, he said he has no intention of staying in a shelter. "(Shelters are) the police and lawyers milking the taxpayers. Shelters are costing the taxpayers money."
On Sunday a group of hikers approached ABC-7 after stumbling upon some the cave and the man inside. The hikers said he chased them out of the dwelling in the nude.
When asked about the allegations of nudity, the man said, “That’s stupidity.”