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KPBS Midday Edition

SDPD: Two Homeless Men Killed, A Third Badly Hurt In Separate Attacks

San Diego police investigate the discovery of a body near the tennis courts at Robb Field in Ocean Beach, July 4, 2016.
10News
San Diego police investigate the discovery of a body near the tennis courts at Robb Field in Ocean Beach, July 4, 2016.

SDPD: Two Homeless Men Killed, A Third Badly Hurt In Separate Attacks
Homeless Advocate Speaks Out On Recent Homeless Killings GUEST: Bob McElroy, president, Alpha Project

The fear and frustration following two fatal attacks and one critical against two homeless men in San Diego. When it comes to the new state budget what is in it for San Diego? This is KPBS Midday Edition . I and Maureen Cavanaugh it is July 5. Our top story police are searching for a man who was a person of interest in the deaths of two homeless and in San Diego and the critical stabbing of the third. The attacks happen near Mission Bay Park and near ocean beach on Sunday and Monday. Police have not released the identities of the men killed and one of the men authorities say was burned beyond recognition. These attacks have sent a sock -- shockwave through the homeless community and they are far from the first. I spoke with Bob McElroy president and CEO of the alpha project. I spoke about the shockwave SSN to the homeless community. What is your reaction? ________________________________________ We have been out there this morning all day today. We are doing wellness check some folks that are down in the riverbed and stuff but it resonated all the way down to 17th and K. They were speaking to folks in the -- and there are a lot of scared folks at the. This is about us extreme as it gets. I've never seen something this extremely savage. People are scared. ________________________________________ What are you telling the homeless population to do? ________________________________________ Keep their eyes open. We happen down talking to folks and those -- telling them to stay in groups. This is not something new. A couple weeks ago somebody was clunking people over the head with the pipe around Horton Plaza. There was another attack in East Village. Folks need to pay attention to their surroundings and if they see somebody they don't know keep their eyeballs open. ________________________________________ You say it is not new. Violence on the streets affecting homeless people have been going on for a long time. It sounds to me as if there is something about this that is striking you as shocking. ________________________________________ There has always been a dirty little secret. I have been out on the street and I with the folks under the bridges and people will drive by with paintball guns and BB guns and throw eggs and that advocates reported. Now we are seeing people get killed and hit with pipes. There is frustration on both sides. Many of the folks downtown are trapped with mental illness and they act out many times and there's tremendous frustration for people who live downtown just trying to walk their dogs and they are verbally accosted or attacked by a homeless person considers frustration both ways and I get it but it's a volatile situation. We have been trying to do something comprehensive. ________________________________________ Is your impression that the violence directed at homeless people has gone up. ________________________________________ Absolutely. My daughter lives downtown -- and her boyfriend. She lives -- she was walking down the street and was verbally accosted by a couple of guys on the street and her boyfriend wanted to go over and beat the living daylights out of them. So I get it. Folks that are on the edges right there it does not take much to light the fuse. As I said the door swings both ways. We have to do something about the situation downtown to mitigate the violence at some point. ________________________________________ The city has been working to transition is people into housing. With my homeless people on the street is this approach working? ________________________________________ It works incrementally. For the lucky few -- there are 7000 people on the waiting list and there is no inventory of permanent supportive housing. It will be decades at this rate to build the inventory of affordable housing for people to move into it works when you have inventory and etiquette people inside but right now we have the huddled masses on the street and right now there is 7000 people waiting to get into the permanent supportive housing. We have to do something far more comprehensive than us. ________________________________________ The city has been trying to discourage camping in the East Village leading up to the All-Star game. What is your take on how that man has unsettled the homeless population and you have homeless people on the move now. ________________________________________ We always have. We have been doing community cleanups and policing for decades. It gets attention now because the All-Star game but if you are down there and there's 50 people across the street that I've been there for several weeks. The police are obligated to do something about it and then remove them down to another block and we have been hurting people around from block to block for decades. It gets more attention now the reality is that it has to be a place for folks to go. This is a designated specifically for homeless folks to get services. We continue to hurt people from one block to the other. ________________________________________ For these attacks that happened over the weekend you have been reaching out to populations downtown and in San Diego River. What have the policeman during. ________________________________________ The cops are not social service providers and unfortunately we have kind of put them into that role. It's up to the providers and the city Council to be more proactive and provide a place for people to go and get them up out of the riverbed's. We got nine ladies who live in the riverbed's near QUALCOMM Stadium and they are scared to go downtown into a fit somebody -- the facility. This could happen to them today. It might be days before anybody find some. It is tremendously frustrating. Not been able to scoop people up and taken to a place that is safe. ________________________________________ I have been speaking to Bob McElroy President and CEO of the alpha project. ________________________________________

San Diego police were investigating the killing of two homeless men and the slashing of another — all within a 25-hour period that began about 8 a.m. Sunday.

Police released on Monday still images from a convenience store video of a man who they want to talk to about the attacks. Two occurred near Mission Bay Park and the third was at the Robb Athletic Field in Ocean Beach.

The string of attacks began on Sunday when police officers and firefighters responded to a report of a fire around 8:05 a.m. on Morena Boulevard near Clairemont Drive. Police said they discovered a man’s body on fire between Interstate 5 and the train tracks.

San Diego police released this blurry photo from a convenience store video of a man wanted for questioning in attacks on three homeless men, July 4, 2016.
10News
San Diego police released this blurry photo from a convenience store video of a man wanted for questioning in attacks on three homeless men, July 4, 2016.

Witnesses told homicide investigators they saw a man run across I-5 near Clairemont Drive carrying a gas can. He was described as white and in his 30s to 50s. He was wearing a tan or brown jacket or sweatshirt, a baseball hat of an unknown color and carrying a backpack, police said.

Authorities blocked off the area throughout Sunday while they investigated the killing.

Then, early Monday, police received a call of a man bleeding on Greenwood Street near Kurtz Street in the Sports Arena area.

Police said officers found a man who had stab wounds in his upper torso, and he was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. The attack happened about 4:50 a.m. and about three miles from the killing on Sunday.

Then, around 6:10 a.m. Monday, police received a report of a bloody body near the tennis courts at the Robb Athletic Field in Ocean Beach. Police said he had trauma to his upper torso.

The park is on Bacon Street, near West Point Loma Boulevard, about three miles from where the stabbing victim had been found on Greenwood, police said.

Witnesses said that all three men were possible transients who frequented the areas where they were attacked.

Detectives asked that anyone with information about the attacks call the San Diego police at (619) 531-2346 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.