Man Arrested for Slaying of San Diego Homeless Men

A man in San Diego, arrested Friday, is accused of attacking and killing several homeless men since July 3.

Jon David Guerrero, 39, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson, according to NBC San Diego.

There was a pattern in the killings and attacks: homeless men sleeping alone with major chest wounds. Two of the victims were set on fire by the killer, according to the San Diego Tribune.

After 12 days of searching for the suspect and a fifth attack early Friday morning, officers found and arrested Guerrero, who matched descriptions of the accused, according to The New York Times.

As horrifying as these crimes are, data shows that they are not uncommon. A July 2016 report by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) states that from 1999-2015, 1,650 housed people committed violent acts against people experiencing homelessness. 428 people died from these attacks. The crimes range from rapes to murders to mutilations.

“These crimes are believed to have been motivated by the perpetrators’ biases against people experiencing homelessness or by their ability to target homeless people with relative ease,” the report states.

One of Guerrero’s friends told NBC San Diego that Guerrero was concerned about the rising homeless population in San Diego because of the nice summer temperatures.

“He was kind of laid back, but it seemed like he had a little bit of a short fuse,” said Dameon Ditto. “Not to say that I would think he would ever do anything like what he’s been accused [of].”

Court records show that Guerrero has a history of psychiatric treatment, arrests and mental competency hearings, according to the San Diego Tribune.

Guerrero’s public defender, Danesh Tandon, was not ready to proceed to trial on the original scheduled court date. The judge granted him a two week continuance, according to NBC San Diego.

The National Coalition for the Homeless published a statement expressing sorrow, as well as a lack of surprise, about the San Diego attacks.

According to NCH, as states continue to criminalize homelessness and acts such as panhandling and camping, they send a message to the public that people experiencing homelessness are not important or worthy. “This message is blatant in the attitudes many cities have toward homeless people and can be used as an internal justification for attacking someone,” the statement said.

Guerrero could face the death penalty for these crimes, according to San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey.

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