LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man arrested Monday on suspicion of beating a homeless man into unconsciousness is suspected of at least six other attacks in Los Angeles and Santa Monica that killed three people and critically injured others, police said.
Police from both cities planned to discuss the case at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Ramon Escobar, 47, was arrested after a homeless man was bludgeoned unconscious and some of his possessions taken as he sat or leaned against a pole or wall shortly before 7 a.m. The man was hospitalized in critical condition with head injuries, Santa Monica police Lt. Saul Rodriguez said.
Escobar was arrested about 30 minutes after the victim was discovered, Rodriguez said. It wasn’t clear whether Escobar had an attorney.
Los Angeles police later released a statement that said they believe Escobar was the man who used a baseball bat to bash the heads of three homeless men who were sleeping on downtown streets before dawn on Sept. 16. Two died.
Police had said they believed the attacker also was homeless and wanted to rob the men. He was captured on surveillance video ransacking their pockets and their belongings.
Rodriguez said Monday’s attack seemed similar to at least four previous beatings of sleeping men this month in the coastal city.
“We have not 100 percent made the confirmation that this is indeed our suspect but it has not been ruled out,” Rodriguez said. “We’re hoping to link everything together.”
Two homeless men sleeping on the beach were bludgeoned in the head during the early morning hours of Sept. 8 and Sept. 10, leaving one in critical condition, Rodriguez said.
Another man who apparently was sleeping on the beach was found dead under the city pier on Sept. 20. Steven Ray Cruze Jr., 39, of San Gabriel had been beaten to death.
Authorities at first described him as homeless but family and friends said the father of two, who loved to fish at the pier, worked boats in neighboring Marina Del Rey and sometimes camped out under the pier to avoid the long commute home.