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Authorities Identify Suspect In Series Of Homeless Attacks

Police arrest Jon David Guerrero, July 15, 2016.
Police arrest Jon David Guerrero, July 15, 2016.

Suspect Arrested In Series Of Attacks On Homeless
Man Being Questioned In Series Of Attacks On Homeless GUEST: Michael McConnell, founder, Homelessness News San Diego

This is KPBS Midday Edition. San Diego police say they've detained a man in connection with a series of attacks on homeless man. The man who was named has not been released was taken into custody by police this morning. The detention came hours after another attack sent a Hamas meant to the hospital. The victim is described as having suffered wounds to his chest as he lay sleeping under and I five overpass near C Street. Police say they believe this is the fifth in a series of attacks against Thomas, three of the men died from their injuries. Joining me is Michael McConnell, founder, Homelessness News San Diego The news of the man detained this morning in connection with killing this is a relief for San Diego's homeless? It is. I think because of the nature of what happens before with having a suspect in custody, I don't think the level of anxiety ever went back to normal. When I Sonoma, it's never normal for people living on the street. There's always a high level of anxiety and caution. Because you're out in the open and vulnerable. We never got down to a reasonable level for those folks. It quickly went back up when the news of the previous suspect was released. I think people were more nervous. I saw groups of people not wanting to stay on the streets by themselves. They were even joining other bigger groups of people to make sure they had a level of safety at night when they stopped. We've been constraining so much on a series of attacks in downtown San Diego. Our attacks against Thomas on the rise in other cities around the country? We are hearing about these attacks more. There's certainly many many that aren't reported. Are more being reported because of these incidents? Here in San Diego? Because of the seriousness of some of the tax, it's important to keep in mind the murders occurring that the police have said one person has been committing this series of violent assault and murders of these individual men, it's one part of it. There are other assaults going on in San Diego. I believe it's been about a series of 12 or 13 assaults. None have resulted in a death thankfully. But, there is our other tax, other events going on on the street of San Diego that we need to be vigilant about as well. Do you think this series of terrible attacks has opened the public's eyes a bit to what the dangers people who are homeless face everyday? I hope so. I think it's exacerbated by how we perceive people experiencing homelessness. These are our neighbors that happen to be living on the streets. We need to view these people living on streets without a home without housing because street is their home at the moment. We need to view them as our neighbors and be watching out for them just as we would any other neighbor. Having a negative perception of people who are homeless is part of their downfall. If we view people as criminals like the city currently wants us to believe, we will have a negative view of people and we won't be willing to look out for them as much. All the criminal -- annualization of the homeless with its be the massive amount of encouragement tickets being handed out to make it harder for people to survive on the street, whether it's ridiculous rock structures being built on the underpasses, these all help build a negative perception of people experiencing homelessness and the more we do that, the more likely we will want to protect people from I hope this wakes us up and makes us realize these people are very vulnerable to these attacks and they bleed just like all of us and they are our neighbors. Let's wake up San Diego and do something about this license. I've been speaking with Michael McConnell, founder, Homelessness News San Diego, thank you.

Police arrested a suspect Friday in connection with a spree of assaults that wounded five homeless men, three fatally, in various San Diego neighborhoods over the last two weeks.

Jon David Guerrero, 39, was taken into custody in the 500 block of West Laurel Street in the Park West area shortly before 5:30 a.m., roughly an hour after the latest non-fatal attack in the series came to light.


"We can all rest a little easier tonight, knowing this predator is off our streets," SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman said during a mid-afternoon briefing.

The chief said she "firmly" believed Guerrero was the person "responsible for these vicious crimes," during which the victims were brutalized — two of them set on fire — as they slept on roadsides, in open areas and under freeway bridges.

"I say that with complete confidence after receiving a thorough briefing from our homicide unit and fully understanding the significant amount of physical evidence they have collected to date, and throughout this entire investigation," Zimmerman told reporters.

Authorities Identify Suspect In Series Of Homeless Attacks

Guerrero, a Coronado native who most recently has lived in downtown San Diego, was expected to be booked on three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson.

The spate of homicidal violence across the city has left San Diegans — particularly those who live on its urban streets — shaken and on edge since the Fourth of July weekend.


The most recent assault occurred early this morning near the intersection of 19th and C Streets in the East Village. The 55-year-old victim suffered "significant trauma" to his upper body but was expected to survive, SDPD Capt. David Nisleit told reporters.

Images of a man believed to be the killer were captured by surveillance cameras at a Bay Park convenience store early on the morning of July 3, shortly before the burning body of 53-year-old transient Angelo De Nardo was found in a nearby open area off Morena Boulevard.

The following day, 41-year-old Shawn Longley was found dead at a park on Bacon Street in Ocean Beach, and 61-year-old Manuel Mason was severely wounded near Valley View Casino Center in the Midway district, according to police.

On the morning of July 6, another homeless man, 23-year-old Dionicio Vahidy, was gravely wounded in downtown San Diego by an assailant who fled after leaving a towel burning on top of the victim. Vahidy died in a hospital four days later.

This week, police released a composite rendering of the assailant, base on input from a witness to the first attack.

Authorities have not released the victims' causes of death or disclosed a suspected motive for the violence.

Last week, a South Bay transient was jailed on suspicion of committing the assaults, but was released four days later, just before he was due to make his initial court appearance in the case. The 36-year-old suspect was freed after detectives uncovered evidence that cast doubt on his guilt, Nisleit said.

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