San Diego police investigating 'random' violent attacks on homeless people


Sam Levin


The Guardia

Publication Date: 

July 5, 2016

San Diego police are investigating a series of violent attacks against homeless people, including one man who was “badly burned” and killed, raising concerns that someone may be targeting vulnerable individuals living on the streets.

Police in the southern California city , which has long grappled with a large homeless population, said on Tuesday that they believe the same suspect is behind three gruesome attacks against homeless people over the weekend, including the two murders.

Officials said the department is also investigating whether the three attacks, which occurred within a 24-hour period, could be connected to a series of separate assaults against homeless people in the city in recent weeks. At least seven other homeless people have faced attacks in the last two weeks, police said.

...News of the disturbing killings has further exacerbated the trauma many people on the streets suffer – particularly vulnerable groups, including women, children, the elderly and the disabled, said Jeeni Criscenzo, president of Amikas, a local not-for-profit organization that works with homeless people.

“Women and children are always at risk of being victims. And the trauma of that fear inhibits their ability to not only function in the present, but to get beyond the present,” she said. “We’re dealing with  PTSD. … This is just adding to it, making it worse.”

...Criscenzo said the assaults should encourage the city to stop criminalizinghomeless people and clearing encampments, which can place them in danger.

“What they’re doing by dispersing people on the the streets is breaking up these family units,” she said. “People are scrambling to reorganize themselves. That does lead them to be a lot more vulnerable.”