Surveillance camera images of the suspect in the two slayings of homeless men. Courtesy San Diego Police
Surveillance camera images of the suspect in the two slayings of homeless men. Courtesy San Diego Police

San Diego Police sought the public’s help Monday in finding find a man they suspect of murdering two homeless men and stabbing a third in a 25-hour period.

Police held an extraordinary midday news conference on the Fourth of July to release a photo taken by a camera at a convenience store that may show the suspect.

The string of crimes began at sunrise Sunday, when witnesses saw a man run across Interstate 5 near Clairemont Drive carrying a gas can. Firefighters were called to a 20-by-20-foot fire burning under an off-ramp bridge, and found a recently-killed man there.

A second man was discovered with stab wounds of some sort, off Kurtz Street east of the Sports Arena, shortly before 5 a.m. Monday. That man had trauma to his upper torso and was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

That attack was about two miles south of the first one.

The third attack was reported about 80 minutes later, at 6:10 a.m., about three miles to the west. In the 2500 block of Bacon Street, near Robb Field in Ocean Beach, a man was found dead with trauma to his upper torso.

All three men were possible transients who frequented the areas where they were attacked, according to witnesses.

Information was developed that identified a possible person of interest in these cases, Homicide Lt. Ray Valentin said. Photos of the suspect were available from a surveillance camera.

Witnesses to the first attack told firefighters and police they saw a white man in his 30s to 50s running across the freeway lanes, from the railroad tracks area toward Mission Bay, carrying a gas can. He was described as wearing a tan or brown jacket or sweatshirt, a baseball hat of an unknown color and carrying a backpack.

The clerk at the convenience store told NBC7 that he remembers selling the man a gas can, a gallon of fuel, a lighter and some gum.

“If I knew what was going to happen, I would, like, examine him but he was just another customer,” the clerk said.

“He was kind of nervous and a fast talker so I made a joke with him. Kind of like, ‘You talk too fast,’ but he was kind of looking at me funny.”

Detectives asked anyone with information related to these incidents to call the San Diego Police Department’s Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2346 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.