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Suspect In San Diego Homeless Killings Had Violent History

San Diego police homicide Capt. David Nisleit announces the arrest of Anthony Padgett in several attacks on homeless men, including two where the victims died, July 7, 2016.
Kris Arciaga
San Diego police homicide Capt. David Nisleit announces the arrest of Anthony Padgett in several attacks on homeless men, including two where the victims died, July 7, 2016.

Suspect Arrested In Attacks On San Diego Homeless Men
Suspect Arrested In Attacks On San Diego Homeless Men GUEST:Megan Burks, reporter, KPBS news

Anthony Pagenaud ¬36 from Chula Vista is in custody in connection with the attack some for homeless men this week. Two of those men died. The crimes have an eerie similarity to an attack that sent him to prison in 2010. Joining us with more is Megan Birks. Megan, welcome to the show. Where and when was Anthony pageant arrested? He was arrested yesterday morning around 10 AM. He was found around Broadway and H Street and Chula Vista. What led police to the suspect? They are being light on the details as you her chief Zimmerman say, they are still trying to tie up this case. Police say tips from the public led them down there as well as evidence. We also know that they had active they had officers stationed at several transit stops yesterday. In fact, he was located close to the to the visit -- Chula Vista transit station. We saw a picture of a person of instrument -- a person event stress -- a person of interest. They do believe the person in that image is pageant. Two people were set on fire. Pageant went to prison for setting a homeless man to fire, didn't he? Yes. In 2010, court records reveal he was convicted and sent to prison for mayhem. There was another homeless man who he was sleeping with he's set on fire. That man suffered burns to 30% of his body and pageant was arrested and then convicted for that. Is pageant homeless himself? Police have not said one way or the other. We do know from the news reports from 2010 that at that time he was homeless. Yesterday police were in homeless encampments in Chula Vista which led some people to believe that yes, he probably was homeless but that has not been confirmed Any word on the two survivors of this week's attacks? I know they are still hospitalized. We checked this morning and they did not have any new updates as of yesterday morning. The man attacked downtown and on fire was in great condition in the hospital. The man found with injuries to his upper torso is still in the hospital in critical condition. As we learned of this arrest we heard there was another attack on a homeless man in San Diego. Where was that like That was admission Valley under the 163. A homeless man was sleeping down there and he awoke to someone rustling through this property. When he confronted that person, that person allegedly had him over the head with a bottle. He reported that to police and went to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries to his head. I have been speaking with Megan Birks . Thank you. Thank you.

A man accused of a spate of attacks on homeless men who were asleep and in some cases set on fire committed a nearly identical crime six years ago.

Anthony Alexander Padgett, 36, admitted lighting a sleeping man on fire in a supermarket parking lot in January 2010 in the suburb of National City. He blamed the influence of drugs — saying he was "super stoned and intoxicated plus using my prescribed medications" — and that he only intended to scare the victim, whom he knew.

A photo of the suspect San Diego police say is responsible for attacks on four homeless men, two of which were fatal.
San Diego Police Department
A photo of the suspect San Diego police say is responsible for attacks on four homeless men, two of which were fatal.

"My intention ... was that he see the fire burning next to him and wake up and be angry at me, thus awakening himself from his nap. I did not hurt him purposely or willingly. I was negligent and made the mistake of walking a few feet away from him and started thinking + looking at something else for a few seconds!"

In a two-page handwritten note to the judge, he calls himself a "homeless citizen," asks Jesus to forgive his sins and expresses remorse for the victim, saying, "I'll never be so stupid again."

The victim suffered burns over nearly 30 percent of his body. One witness told police that Padgett poured an unknown fluid on the victim and then a "whoosh" noise came before body burned.

A jury convicted Padgett of assault and mayhem. The Star News of Chula Vista reported that he was sentenced to four years in prison, half of what state prosecutors sought.

Padgett was arrested Thursday about a block from a trolley station in Chula Vista, the San Diego suburb where he was born. He was booked into jail on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson in the attacks on four homeless men in San Diego that left two dead and two severely injured.

A law enforcement official with direct knowledge of both investigations told The Associated Press that the suspect is the same Anthony Padgett. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because San Diego police have not publicly made any connection.

This week's attacks bore similar hallmarks. The three last victims were sleeping alone, and two were set on fire.

All four suffered extensive trauma to the upper torso. Police have declined to elaborate on the nature of the injuries or any weapons used.

The violence began Sunday, when police found the badly burned remains of Angelo De Nardo between Interstate 5 and train tracks. The 53-year-old died before his body was set on fire.

The next day, officers responding to a 911 call found Manuel Mason, 61, with life-threatening injuries to his upper torso. A few hours later, police discovered the body of Shawn Longley, 41, who bled from the upper torso and died.

On Wednesday, a 23-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was severely injured after being set on fire downtown, police said. A witness pulled away a burning cloth that the attacker put on the victim before fleeing.

The attacks left San Diego's homeless population on edge. Many heeded the advice of homeless advocates to sleep in groups and in populated, well-lit areas.

Ron Shatto normally sleeps under a tarp stretched over two shopping carts but joined other transients in a small camp Wednesday night. He never closed his eyes.

"I don't want to wake up on fire," said Shatto, 51, who has been living in the streets since February 2015, most recently under a freeway bridge.