On July 7, 2016, in San Diego, California, the police arrested Anthony Alexander Padgett, 36, in relation to a series of attacks on San Diego’s homeless sleeping population. The suspect was taken into custody at 10 a.m. PDT, south of San Diego, according to CNN News. Padgett was booked on murder and attempted murder Thursday night.
San Diego Police Department Captain David Nisleit told reporters there was probable cause for Padgett’s arrest but did not expand any further. He added the investigation is still underway and it was tips from the public that led to Padgett’s arrest. Local law enforcement is not sure if Padgett acted alone, at this time. Surveillance video captured a man buying a gas can, a gallon of gas, and a lighter approximately 15 minutes before one of the assaults. Nisleit stated that police believe it may be Padgett on the video.
Padgett had been arrested in 2010, on suspicions of setting his friend on fire as he slept. At the time of the attack, both Padgett and his friend were homeless, according to channel WREX. Although the friend was critically injured, he survived his attack.
Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman expressed her sentiments for the homeless people of San Diego, at large. She stated the killer is targeting San Diego’s most defenseless residents as they sleep. She went on to plead with the public about the safety and the shared responsibility it has for their homeless people.
The first three attacks happened within a 25-hour time period. On Wednesday, at approximately 5 a.m., the fourth attack took place and the police found a man on fire. The man was found on the ground located across from the federal courthouse downtown.
Witnesses first thought, when they saw a man bent over the victim, he was burning a pile of clothes. Sunday morning, eyewitnesses reported seeing a man ablaze sprinting down the train tracks, adjacent to Interstate 5. Law enforcement later found the badly charred body of Angelo De Nardo, age 53.
Lieutenant Manny Del Toro reported, around that same time, eyewitnesses said that a man in his late 40s or early 50s ran across the highway carrying a gas can, away from the train tracks. Two other victims with similarly severe burn injuries were discovered on Monday, which resulted in one death.
One of the victims, a 23-year-old man who had been set on fire while he was sleeping, in downtown San Diego, was taken to a local hospital. He is expected to survive his injuries. Also found, was Manuel Mason, 61, outside the Valley View Casino Center. He had been beaten and sustained multiple stab wounds. Authorities rushed him to the hospital and he is expected to survive. The motives for these attacks are unknown.
On the same day, Shawn Longley, 41, was found dead near the tennis courts on Bacon Street, in the Ocean Beach neighborhood. Reports from investigators stated that Longley sustained blunt force trauma to the upper body.
Nisleit gave a statement saying that the police believe the assaults on the homeless community in San Diego are linked, however, they appear to be random and senseless attacks. He went on to say that the homeless community should travel and sleep in groups.
It is extremely unsettling for the public, the homeless population and the San Diego Police Department.
By Tracy Blake
Edited by Jeanette Smith
CNN U.S. News: San Diego homeless killings: Police arrest suspect
Daily News: Man in custody in attacks on homeless people in San Diego
13 WREX.com: Suspect arrested in attacks on San Diego homeless population
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