A street drug called “bath salts” that turns users delirious, aggressive and overheated, may have played a role in the bizarre street attack in Miami in which a man had his face cannibalized by another man, says an emergency room doctor.
Whether the drug was involved in Saturday’s macabre violence has yet to be confirmed by autopsy results on the attacker, but Dr. Paul Adams an emergency room doctor at Jackson Memorial Hospital said he found similarities in the behaviour found in other users.
“We noticed an increase probably after Ultra Fest,” Adams told the local CBS station in Miami. The electronic music festival was held in March in Miami.
The physical trauma follows a pattern, he said: extremely high body temperatures, strong aggressive, attacks using the mouth and jaws, he said.
“Extremely strong, I took care of a 150-pound individual who you would have thought he was 250 pounds,” Adams said. “It took six security officers to restrain the individual.”
The strength and violence of the users posed a serious threat, he said.
“It’s dangerous for the police,” said Adams. “It’s dangerous for the firefighters. It’s dangerous for the hospital workers taking care of them because they come in, they have to be restrained both chemically and physically and you’re asking for someone to get hurt.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration made it illegal last October to own or buy three of the chemicals commonly used to make “bath salts”: the synthetic stimulants mephedrone, MDPV, and methylone.
Another local Miami station, WPLG-ABC, identified the attacker who was shot and killed by police as Rudy Eugene, 31, a homeless man whose marriage ended because of violence.
He met his now ex-wife in high school at North Miami Beach Senior High.
“I wouldn’t say he had mental problem but he always felt like people was against him type of attitude. No one was for him, everyone was against him,” said Eugene’s ex-wife.
The two filed for divorce in 2007 during a violent point in their relationship, the TV station said.
Ives Eugene, who identified himself as Rudy Eugene’s uncle, described his nephew as a “nice and hard-working” man who washed cars at a local dealership.
In a telephone interview, Eugene, 55, said his nephew had asked his girlfriend to borrow her car, but she said no. “So he rode the bicycle, and he never came back home.”
Ives Eugene said the family heard Monday about the attack but did not know what caused it.
Security video from the adjacent Miami Herald building captured snippets of the violence on the MacArthur Causeway’s off-ramp as the two men — one dead, the other gravely injured — lay on the sidewalk as scores of officers arrived.
The victim remained at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center. In addition to eating the man’s flesh, his attacker, according to police sources, tried to gouge out his eyes,
The victim and the officer have not been identified.
Police said it all began about 2 p.m. Saturday when a Road Ranger spotted the men and shouted on his loudspeaker for the attacker to back away. Meanwhile, a woman also saw what was happening flagged down an officer.
One witness, Larry Vega, told a local TV station he was riding his bicycle on the MacArthur when he saw a man tearing off pieces of the victim’s flesh with his mouth.
“I told him to get off,” Vega told the station, “and the guy just kept eating the other guy away.”
Vega said he found a police officer, who approached and told the attacker to get off the man.
“The guy just stood, his head up like that, with pieces of flesh in his mouth,” Vega said. “And he growled.”
The officer fired, striking the attacker, but the man kept chewing, Vega said. The officer fired again, hitting him several more times, eventually killing him.
After that, Vega said, all he saw was blood.
“It’s one of the most gruesome things I’ve ever seen in my life in person,” he told the station.
Torstar News, with files from the Associated Press