Pictures of a man described by police as a person of interest in all three crimes were released Monday afternoon.
“This person is only a person of interest at this time,” said Captain Nisleit. “Based on our evidence and based on the investigation as we are working through all three of these cases, we do believe all three of these cases are linked and one person is responsible for these two homicides and attack.”
MEDIA BRIEFING: Captain Nisleit will hold a press conference at 1PM today in front of Western Division. pic.twitter.com/FhpZeaINSx
— San Diego Police Department (@SanDiegoPD) July 4, 2016
The photos released by police were taken at a local business near the scene of the first murder. Firefighters battling a blaze near Interstate 5 found the victim of the first attack early Sunday.
Arson investigators, police officers and the California Highway Patrol were called just after 8 a.m. to under the elevated ramps at Interstate 5 at Clairemont Drive, near Mission Bay Park, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Lee Swanson.
It took firefighters only a few minutes to put out the 6-foot by 6-foot fire before they made the discovery, Swanson said. They found the man’s body still on fire. Officers aren’t sure if he was already dead at the time or if he suffered any additional trauma.
“He is so badly burned, we can’t tell. We’re going to have to wait for an autopsy for any additional information,” said Lt. Manny Deltoro.
Witnesses told firefighters and police they saw a white man in his 40s to 50s running across the freeway lanes, from the railroad tracks area towards Mission Bay, carrying a gas can. He was described as wearing a brown coat, green Army hat and tan khaki pants.
“There’s nothing to indicate there was a homeless camp. No tents, etc. But there is some debris to show it is an area that would have been frequented by individuals but we can’t tell you if the man is homeless at this time,” said Lt. Deltoro.
Then, early Monday morning, a man was slashed and found bleeding by police in the 3700 block of Greenwood Street. He was transported to the hospital and his injuries to the upper torso were said to be life-threatening.
An early-morning park-goer flagged down an officer near Robb Field on West Point Loma Boulevard around 6 a.m. The officer then found the man, believed to be in his 50s or 60s, not breathing and with “a lot of trauma” to his upper body.
It appeared that the man may have been homeless, and was sleeping when he was attacked, police said.
“We have a person out there attacking victims that were sleeping. They weren’t doing anything wrong,” Capt. Nisleit said. “This is obviously a very dangerous person. A person we want to remove from the community as fast as we can, so we are asking for the public’s help.”
Anyone with information related to the three crimes is asked to call San Diego police at 619-531-2346 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.