San Diego

Man Arrested, Charged With Murder in Series of Violent Homeless Attacks

Authorities have arrested and charged a man with murder and attempted murder in a series of violent attacks against homeless San Diegans. 

San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Homicide Division Capt. David Nisleit announced the arrest of Anthony Alexander Padgett, 36, of Chula Vista, Thursday following an active manhunt for the suspect.

“At this time, we have probable cause to arrest Mr. Padgett for these heinous crimes,” Nisleit said. “This arrest comes with our main priority of helping the public.”

NBC 7 San Diego first reported a person of interest was taken into custody after confirming the news with two independent sources. 

Padgett was arrested around 10 a.m. near Broadway and H Street in Chula Vista. Nisleit said Padgett is responsible for killing two homeless men and critically injuring two others, leaving them with significant trauma to their upper bodies. Authorities do not believe there are other suspects. 

Read more about the attacks here. 

Nisleit said the investigation is still in its initial stages and there is still a lot of work to be done, including interviewing witnesses and processing evidence. He said investigators will be  “doing that around the clock.”

Nisleit said they have served several search warrants at locations in San Diego, and Padgett will be booked soon. Padgett will be charged with murder and attempted murder, he said. 

A source confirmed Padgett was arrested in 2010 for setting a homeless man on fire. 

He said investigators believe Padgett is the same man spotted on surveillance footage buying gasoline minutes before a homeless man was set on fire Sunday, the first in the series of killings. 

Police will not release further details of the crimes as the investigation is ongoing. 

No motive has been assigned to the attacks. Nisleit would not elaborate on any potential motive or statement made. 

No other information was immediately available.

Ed. Note: Four days after his arrest, Padgett was released from custody. Homicide investigators said they examined the evidence in the case and found reason to exclude him as a suspect.

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