A homeless man suffered severe head injuries when he was beaten with a baseball bat as he slept near an Escondido flood control channel.
A group of young men attacked the 42-year-old man as he slept alongside a bicycle path shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, Lt. Bob Benton said.
A witness who called 9-1-1 said the man was beaten with a baseball bat over 30 times. By the time officers arrived, the attackers had fled.
The man was rushed to Palomar Medical Center in a medically induced coma.
Benton says about a half hour earlier, another man reported three to five young men had attacked him on the same bicycle path.
Four people were taken in for questioning, but police do not think they are connected to the attacks.
“At this time we think the two could be related because of the closeness in time… and the same general description of the suspects,” Lt. Benton said.
The bike path is supposed to be off-limits after dark, but residents say many ignore the posted signs and that's when the trouble begins.
“Usually it's gang related. Most of them are just looking to beat up people and take their money,” Monica Tapia said.
Police recently increased patrols of the flood control channel -- mostly due to graffiti and vandalism -- although there have been other reported attacks and robberies.
“Maybe after what happened, people will stop coming here after dark,” Tapia said.
The man who made national headlines after he appeared in the "bum fight" videos has a message for those attackers
“What would I say to a person that done that to them? I would say what did that person do to you? This person is a human being, they have feelings they have family,” homeless advocate Rufus Hannah said.
Hannah once lived on the streets and did whatever he was told to make a buck, including fighting his best friend on camera.
Now, Rufus has been sober for more than five years and says he’s disappointed to know that people are still taking advantage of the homeless.
One of the men who helped Rufus get off the streets says people have to remember that the homeless are people too.
“I think people have to care about other human beings. It could be your mother, your sister, your brother that have no place to go,” Barry Soper said.
Homeless advocate groups say they want lawmakers to create tougher penalties for people who are violent against the homeless.
Investigators are still looking for up to five men in their 20s, if you have any information call police.