published on July 15, 2016 - 9:08 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

(AP) — San Diego police early Friday detained a person in the investigation of a spate of deadly attacks on homeless men — shortly after finding the latest victim, a 55-year-old man bleeding under a freeway overpass with severe trauma to his upper body.

Two Harbor police officers heard screams around 4:30 a.m., found the latest victim in the downtown area and alerted San Diego police officers. Authorities found the person of interest in the area shortly after that, Capt. David Nisleit told The Associated Press.

Officials released no details about the detained person who is believed to be responsible for the attacks that have left three dead. Nisleit told The San Diego Union-Tribune that it’s his understanding the man resembles the suspect whose image was caught on a convenience store surveillance video after the first killing July 3.

Police say the victim attacked Friday is expected to survive.

Friday’s incident fit the characteristics of the four other attacks involving men usually sleeping on the street who suffered severe trauma to their upper body. Two of the victims were set on fire after being wounded.

Earlier this month, police arrested a man in the case, and called him the sole suspect. He was later released and no charges were filed. Police concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute him.

Nisleit was cautiously optimistic police had caught the correct man Friday.

“If it is our guy, we’re going to feel very relieved,” Nisleit told the newspaper. “We’ve been working around the clock.”

The attacks put the city’s homeless population on edge.

The violence began July 3, 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 remained in critical condition Monday with injuries to his upper torso. A few hours later, police discovered the body of Shawn Longley, 41, who bled from the upper torso and died.

Dionicio Derek Vahidy, 23, died Sunday at a hospital, four days after he was set on fire downtown. A witness pulled away a burning cloth that the attacker put on him before fleeing.

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