San Diego police announced the arrest of the man they believe is responsible for the attacks on homeless people on Thursday morning. Anthony Alexander Padgett was arrested in Chula Vista, which is south of San Diego, and charged with murder, attempted murder, and arson, according to CBS News.
Surveillance video and tips from the public are what lead police to suspect and arrest the 36-year-old man, although Capt. David Nisleit wouldn’t give specifics other than there was probable cause. He said the investigation is ongoing and indicated tips from the public led to Anthony Padgett’s arrest.
— Kristina Audencial (@KrisFox5SD) July 8, 2016
The San Diego police department went on a public campaign to find the person responsible for killing two homeless men and hospitalizing two others, utilizing social media to catch the attacker who set two people on fire and beat two others while they were sleeping. Presently, there is no motive for the attacks, but according to CBS News, Padgett has a violent history and was sentenced to six years in prison for a crime that is similar to the ones he is being accused of now.
“This killer has targeted some of our city’s most vulnerable residents while they are asleep. Please, please, please — public safety is a shared responsibility.”
Anthony Padgett was convicted of mayhem for setting a homeless friend on fire in Chula Vista in 2010. The 49-year old victim was burned over 30 percent of his body and at the time, Padgett was homeless too.
The four recent attacks happened in a four-day period last week; the first three happened last Sunday and Monday when two men were beaten and another set on fire; then, last Wednesday, a man was found across the street from the federal courthouse on fire. He is expected to survive and so is a 61-year-old man who was beaten. Sadly, the other man that was set on fire and another that was beaten did not survive their injuries said Capt. Nisleit. At this time, Anthony Padgett is the only suspect.
“We are providing outreach to our homeless to warn them of the dangers we are facing & asking them for their help.” pic.twitter.com/3TUP6XZy4T
— San Diego Police (@SanDiegoPD) July 6, 2016
Detectives have surveillance video from a convenience store that they believe shows Padgett and Capt. Nisleitt announced on Thursday that police believe that Padgett’s earlier crime and the four from last week are linked.
“We’re absolutely convinced these attacks are linked. We’re working through all these cases again.”
The fire attack victim that died on Sunday was reportedly running down the train tracks on fire along Interstate 5 and around the same time, witnesses described a man between 40 and 50-years-old running away from the train tracks with a gas can. The deceased man’s badly charred body was found later and he was identified as Angelo De Nardo, according to KSWB.
— Catherine Garcia (@CatherineNBCSD) July 8, 2016
San Diego police have encouraged homeless people to travel and sleep in groups seeing as the unnerving attacks seem to be senseless and random, and Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman encouraged everyone, homeless or not, to be vigilant and keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
The cities homeless population may be able to breathe a sigh of relief now that police think they have their suspect, but until San Diego authorities are certain that Anthony Alexander Padgett is their one and only suspect in the violent attacks against the homeless, the community is on alert, and the homeless will continue to be terrified knowing they are extremely vulnerable against someone who is killing them for no reason.
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