Suspect arrested in string of attacks on San Diego homeless

San Diego police have arrested a suspect in a string of attacks on homeless people that left two dead and two others badly injured.

Authorities said Anthony Alexander Padgett, 36, was arrested in Chula Vista Thursday morning and would be charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder. 

Padgett is accused of committing four attacks against transients in four days. The most recent occurred Wednesday night, when a 23-year-old man was seriously injured and set on fire. Police said the victim suffered upper body injuries and was not expected to survive.

San Diego Police spokesman Capt. David Nisleit did not discuss a possible motive and did not say whether Padgett knew the alleged victims. He added that investigators were looking to see whether other assaults on homeless people were connected to the four cases.

The spree began Sunday, when police found the badly burned remains of Angelo De Nardo between Interstate 5 and some train tracks. The 53-year-old died before his body was set on fire.

The next day, officers responding to a 911 call found Manuel Mason, 61, who suffered life-threatening injuries to his upper torso and remained in critical condition Thursday. A few hours later, police discovered the body of Shawn Longley, 41, who bled from the upper torso and died.

Many heeded the advice of homeless advocates to sleep in groups and in populated, lighted areas. Police said the last three victims were attacked while sleeping alone.

The string of violence comes four years after rampage in nearby Orange County left six people dead, including four homeless men as well as a woman and her son. Itzcoatl Ocampo, 25, was charged in 2012 but died in jail before trial. Several of the victims were stabbed.

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