MIAMI (CBSMiami) — In the week since the brutal face-mauling attack along the MacArthur Causeway in Miami, friends and family of the accused attacker, 31-year-old Rudy Eugene, have said he was a good guy looking to get his life on track.
But at least one person who spoke to CBS4 News said Eugene had a temper and has looked for fights before.
Former boxer and one-time heavyweight champion Melton Bowen said he once had to use his right hook to defend himself against Rudy Eugene.
“I got him before he got me,” Bowen said Saturday through slurred speech, a result of an accident a few years back.
Bowen said he argued with Rudy Eugene in 2007. He said the two disagreed over music and tensions escalated.
“He did threaten me though, ‘Oh I’m gonna kill your (expletive), you know,” Bowen said.
Bowen said Eugene removed his shirt, which Bowen considered a sign Eugene wanted to cause trouble.
It’s something Rudy Eugene did before police say he attacked a homeless stranger along the MacArthur Causeway over Memorial Day weekend.
“He was taking his clothes off and throwing them into traffic,” a 911 caller told a dispatcher the day of the attack.
In one 911 call, a bus driver described the vicious mauling.
“He is beating another man to a pulp. Like on top of the man, beating him, the man is bleeding,” the caller said. “He’s gonna kill that man, I promise you.”
Ronald Poppo, 65, survived the mauling, but police say they were forced to shoot and kill Rudy Eugene when he refused to stop ripping at Poppo’s face with his mouth and even growled at the officer who ordered him to get off the homeless man.
Though they had a troubled past, Bowen said he was shocked to learn Eugene was capable of the gruesome attack that left Poppo without most of his face.
“He wasn’t violent, he was all right.,” Bowen said. “But after you get to know him. If you don’t know him, something different. But if you got to know him, he was pretty cool. He was all right.”
Police were called out to that fight in 2007.
Bowen said no charges were ever filed because he claimed he punched Eugene in self-defense.
Bowen added they eventually put their differences aside, and at the time of his death, he considered Eugene a friend.