MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida and the rest of the world is getting a closer look at the vicious cannibal attack on the MacArthur Causeway thanks to dramatic surveillance video taken by CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald, as we learn new details about the 12 hours leading up to the grisly crime.
The video shows that the gruesome and brutal attack on 65-year-old homeless man Ronald Poppo went on for 18 horrifying minutes.
Miami Herald videographer Chuck Fadely shared the video with CBS4 News and described what happened.
“He walks in,” said Fadely. “The guy is sitting and here a bicyclist goes by, then he starts in on the victim that’s sitting there.”
Fadely is referring to 31-year-old Rudy Eugene who ripped off 75-percent of Poppo’s face before getting shot and killed by a Miami police officer on Saturday.
During the violence, Eugene appears to punch Poppo repeatedly.
“Now he starts to roll him down the sidewalk,” explained Fadely pointing to the video. “See he’s rolling the guy down the sidewalk here, then he strips off some clothing and starts dragging him feet first down the sidewalk even a little further. He seems to roll the victim violently, you can see his legs in the air,” said Fadely.
“He’s flopping him around. The guy at no point in the video does he look like he’s fighting back. I mean he’s bending over the guy at this point maybe he’s already started chewing on him, I can’t tell,” said Fadely.
Then, Eugene moves him again.
“He drags him down and he’s just barely out of sight now and he’s continuing to attack the guy.”
As the cannibalism took place, you can see a Road Ranger and a bicyclist pass by but the terror doesn’t stop. More than 15 minutes into the gory attack, Miami Police officer Jose Ramirez pulled up.
“All of a sudden he takes two steps back and pulls his gun,” said Fadely.
Eugene is off screen by this point but according to police, he took a bullet and kept chewing. He even reportedly growled at the officer before he fired again several times. Eugene didn’t stop until he was dead.
Eugene was a North Miami Beach high graduate who washed cars for a living. By most accounts he was acting out of character leading up to the attack.
CBS4 News has learned his bizarre behavior began 12 hours earlier at his girlfriend’s house in Miami Gardens. Detectives say he was manic and rummaging through their clothes. He left around 2:00 a.m. and drove to a friend’s house in Northwest Miami-Dade for a few hours.
At 6:00 a.m. he drove to South Beach to check out Urban Beach weekend activities. He parked illegally at Alton Road and Tenth Street. When he returned, the car wouldn’t start. CBS4’s sources said Eugene abandoned the car, which was later towed by Miami Beach officials, as part of their routine roundup of illegally parked cars. There are no details about what Eugene did after he abandoned his car, but police believe he decided to walk back to the mainland around 1:00 p.m. over the MacArthur Causeway. Along the way, he shed his clothes and at the end of the causeway next to the Miami Herald building, he encountered a stranger, Ronald Poppo.
“Why would somebody mess with him?” said Herald security guard Roosevelt Johnson.
Johnson knew Poppo and still can’t believe what happened.
“He just walks around. Doesn’t bother anyone. He’s quiet. He sings,” said Johnson of Poppo.
Poppo, whose been homeless for more than 3 decades and frequently slept under the causeway, can’t communicate right now. He’s missing his eyes, nose and mouth and remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Police still don’t know what caused Eugene to attack Poppo.
CBS4 sources said he was autopsied over the weekend by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office, which reportedly found nothing unusual. Toxicology screens, which test for drugs and chemicals in the blood and body take much longer to complete, so police don’t know if drugs played a part in his maniacal rage and descent into cannibalism.
Results could take between two weeks and two months.
CBS4’s Jim Defede has also learned that Eugene’s brain is expected to be sent to the University of Miami for further analysis and testing.