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‘Evil acts of violence’: A frantic search in San Diego before killer strikes again

San Diego police are desperately searching for a killer targeting the city’s homeless population before he strikes again.

Over the last week, the attacker has struck at least four times, leaving two men dead and two in critical condition and putting the city’s homeless community on edge. Officials have no idea of the motive. They have photos and videos of a suspect but no name.

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Here’s what we know:

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Do police consider the attacker a serial killer?

San Diego Police Department Capt. Dave Nisleit stopped short of calling the assailant a serial killer, but described the attacks as a series. “We consider him extremely dangerous,” Nisleit said. “We need to have him removed from the community as soon as possible.”

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and police Chief Shelley Zimmerman called the case the department’s highest priority. Officers and activists have been informing homeless people of the attacks, showing them photos of the suspect, working to connect people with services and shelter, and advising them to be particularly aware of their surroundings.

“These evil acts of violence are some of the worst I’ve seen in my 34 years in law enforcement,” Zimmerman said.

When did these attacks begin?

The spree began Sunday. Police said the victims all suffered similar and significant trauma to the upper torsos, but they would not detail the injuries. Three of the four men had been sleeping at the time; all were alone.

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Angelo De Nardo was the first victim. He was found about 8 a.m. Sunday, his body ablaze under a freeway bridge in the Bay Park neighborhood. An autopsy concluded the 53-year-old had suffered extensive injuries before being set on fire.

Police said a man carrying a gas can was seen running across northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway about two blocks away. He was described as 30 to 50 years old, wearing a tan or brown jacket or sweatshirt and a baseball cap and carrying a backpack.

Manuel Mason, 61, was found critically injured in the Midway district about 4:50 a.m. Monday. He is expected to survive. Shawn Longley, 41, was found dead at a sports facility in Ocean Beach about 6:10 a.m.

Another homeless man was set on fire in downtown San Diego on Wednesday.

How is the homeless community reacting?

A number of transients said they had armed themselves in the wake of the attacks. One man brandished a pink bat.

“If someone comes up and I don’t know them at nighttime, with people going around beating up the homeless and taking them out … I’ll tell them to back away, and come out with this” bat, John Henry said.

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