New video shows more grisly details of face-eating attack in Miami

Rudy Eugene walked naked alongside Miami's MacArthur Causeway before pouncing on a homeless man he found dozing in the shade of the elevated Metromover train tracks.

For almost 18 grisly minutes, Eugene savaged his victim, punching him and stripping the man's pants before gnawing off the homeless man's face — all as cars and cyclists rolled by on the busy causeway on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The new details of the horrific attack were captured in additional video footage taken by security cameras at the nearby Miami Herald building.

At least five passersby, including a Road Ranger from the Florida Department of Transportation, called police to report what they saw of the macabre scene. Three bicyclists pedaled by the two bloody men in the minutes before the arrival of Miami police officer Jose Rivera, who shot and killed Eugene to end the attack, the new footage shows. The shooting itself was obstructed in the video, and the officer appeared to shoot Eugene within a minute of arriving.

On Tuesday police identified Eugene's victim as Ronald Poppo, a 65-year-old homeless man who has lived on Miami's streets for more than three decades. With his nose, mouth and eyes torn off, he remained in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Tuesday.

The new video, and information from police, suggest that Eugene stumbled upon Poppo by sheer happenstance.

The footage shows Eugene walking naked on the sidewalk along the Biscayne Boulevard off-ramp of the causeway at around 1:55 p.m. Saturday when he paused in a shady spot under the Metromover Omni loop line. Eugene appeared to twirl as a bicyclist zoomed by. For about two minutes, Eugene bent over a second figure in the shade, though the images are obscured by a rustling palm frond.

Eugene then rolled Poppo out onto the sunny sidewalk, stripping off his clothes while Poppo appeared to kick in resistance. Eugene later appeared to straddle Poppo and hunch over him for several minutes.

Meanwhile, two more cyclists passed by, and one motorist in a white car slowed down while descending the off-ramp. But for many motorists, the scene was obscured by a waist-high concrete safety wall along the highway.

According to Miami police, the first call of a disturbance came from a passing motorist who reported seeing Eugene stripping off his clothes and acting erratically. That call was routed to the Florida Highway Patrol — it's unclear why — and then transferred to the Miami police. Police have not disclosed the time of the first call.

A Road Ranger called to the scene also called 911 and used a loudspeaker to call for the naked attacker to cease. As the attack dragged on, two other motorists called police, as did another cyclist, Larry Vega, who later told reporters that Eugene "just stood, his head up like that, with pieces of flesh in his mouth. And he growled."

At about 2:11 p.m. — 16 minutes after the attack began — a Miami police patrol car briefly turned up the causeway ramp, against traffic, before turning around, the video shows.

About two minutes later, the patrol car turned against traffic again and drove up the ramp to scene, just south of the Miami Herald's parking garage. Just a few seconds after stepping from his car to confront the attacker, Officer Rivera drew his gun, but it's unclear when he fired on Eugene, killing the 31-year-old man. A second officer arrived about one minute later.

Police have just begun to piece together Eugene's actions in the hours before the attack.

It appears Eugene had been in Miami Beach — in full party mode for Urban Beach Week over the Memorial Day Weekend — shortly before the attack. Eugene's car, a purple 1995 Chevrolet Caprice, was towed for being parked illegally at 1100 10th St.

The night before, Eugene had been with his girlfriend in Miami Gardens. She reported that he was acting strangely before leaving in his car. According to police, Eugene later called her to say that his car broke down.

Still unclear is what motivated the attack. Though some have speculated that Eugene was under the influence of some kind of stimulants or other drugs that sometimes cause violent episodes, police said they found no evidence of drugs or paraphernalia at the scene. Toxicology tests of Eugene's blood will likely take several weeks.

New video shows more grisly details of face-eating attack in Miami 05/29/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 11:32am]

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