Kevin Adorno, a 28-year-old graphic designer from Unionville, Connecticut, was on the romantic bicycle trip of a lifetime. He planned to cycle from Maryland to Miami, Florida, where the plan was to ask his girlfriend to marry him. And he was just over 100 miles from the amazing end of his journey when suddenly, out of nowhere, it all went tragically wrong.
Adorno pulled into a McDonald’s fast food joint on Route 1 in Vero Beach, Florida, to grab some food and recharge his cell phone sometime shortly before 9:30 pm on Monday evening. He placed a call to his girlfriend on his phone and was speaking with her when he strolled outside the restaurant.
That’s when 59-year-old Rene Herrera Cruz, a homeless man who recently migrated from Miami to Vero Beach and appeared to be suffering from paranoid mental delusions, pulled out a filet knife and plunged it into Adorno’s chest.
As Cruz tossed his knife in the bushes and walked from the McDonald’s to a Burger King across the street, Adorno, witnesses say, stumbled back into the McDonald’s bleeding badly. A bystander called 911 and police found Adorno on the floor near the McDonald’s rest room area, while Good Samaritan bystanders attempted to put pressure on his wounds to stop the bleeding.
Adorno was rushed to nearby Indian River Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Police arrested Cruz at the Burger King. When they asked him why he attacked Adorno, according to the police report, he spun a paranoid scenario in which Adorno — a man Cruz admitted he had never seen before in his life — was out to get him.
Mental health experts believe that about one-third of the U.S. homeless population suffers from severe mental illness, such as paranoid schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Studies have shown that the number of mentally ill among the homeless is correlated with a shortage of bed space in psychiatric hospitals.
Cruz told the officers that he had been in the McDonald’s parking lot earlier when a motorcycle pulled in. He believed that the motorcycle rider was “watching him.” His fear led him to remove the filet knife from his backpack.
When he saw Adorno on the cell phone, he became convinced that Adorno was also watching him and was ordering some unknown person or persons on the other end of the call to attack him.
“Cruz therefore felt threatened and attacked Adorno,” the Vero Beach police said in a statement.
Police already knew Cruz, they said. In fact, the previous night they had encountered him at the same Burger King where they arrested him Monday.
“He called us from Burger King right across the street and he told responding officers that individuals were looking for him or were after him,” Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey said.
Kevin Adorno, whose family still lives in Farmington, Connecticut, owned his own graphic design business and was known as an avid athlete who also loved animals.