MIAMI — It is being called one of this city’s goriest crimes: A naked man was on top of another nude man along a busy highway, biting into the man’s face, tearing it to pieces. A police officer arrived to help, but the mauler growled at him and continued to chew away, stopping only when he was shot to death.
Miami police said little Tuesday about the attack, which took place Saturday afternoon in the shadow of The Miami Herald headquarters. Surveillance video from the newspaper’s security camera showed cars, motorcycles, pedestrians and bicyclists passing by.
The victim, identified as 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, was in critical condition, with only his goatee intact on his face, the newspaper reported.
Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, said it was one of the bloodiest “and goriest scenes I’ve ever been to.”
“It was not only grotesque, it was just very sad, the amount of blood. It was very sad to see what happened to this gentleman that had his face eaten,” Ortiz said.
It’s not clear what led Rudy Eugene, 31, to attack Poppo. Eugene’s ex-wife, Jenny Ductant, told WPLG-TV, said he was somewhat paranoid.
“I wouldn’t say he had mental problem but he always felt like people was against him ... No one was for him, everyone was against him,” she told the station.
Larry Vega was riding his bicycle off the causeway, which connects downtown Miami with Miami Beach, when he saw the attack.
“The guy was, like, tearing him to pieces with his mouth, so I told him, ‘Get off!”’ Vega told Miami television station WSVN. “The guy just kept eating the other guy away, like, ripping his skin.”
Vega flagged down the Miami police officer, who can be seen exiting his car on the Herald video. Vega said the officer repeatedly ordered the attacker to get off. Eugene just picked his head up and growled at the officer before continuing to maul his victim, Vega said.
The officer shot Eugene, but he just kept chewing, Vega said. The officer fired again, killing Eugene. Vega refused to comment when reached by The Associated Press, saying he wanted to put what he witnessed behind him.