A sleeping homeless man suffered serious head injuries Saturday when an unknown man attacked him in a North Park alley, brutally beating him with a skateboard.
The attack – which the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said was seemingly unprovoked – happened just after 4:30 a.m. in a south alley off El Cajon Boulevard, behind a Jack in the Box restaurant.
Police said a 55-year-old transient was sleeping when, suddenly, a man hit him several times on the head with a skateboard.
Witnesses told investigators the suspect fled in a white Honda, leaving the victim critically injured on the street.
NBC 7 spoke to one North Park resident, who asked to remain anonymous, who said she heard the attack outside her home. The incident left her shaken.
“I heard like a ‘Pop, pop,’ and then a car raced down the alley, and then I heard my husband screaming, ‘He’s bleeding!’ she recounted.
She said the victim was lying on the ground, covered in so much blood that his face was no longer visible.
“You could tell he was in a lot of pain. His beanie was covered in blood. His face was covered in blood. He was in shock,” she explained. “There was blood just going into his mouth, and he was kind of choking on it.”
She said ambulance soon arrived, taking the man away. The police department said the victim was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.
Police said the suspect was described as a man between 19 and 26 years old, with shoulder-length hair. The 6-foot-tall man was wearing gray shorts.
No one else was harmed in the violent attack.
As of 2:30 p.m., SDPD Officer Tony Martinez confirmed the victim was on life support and would likely not survive his injuries.
The crime is being investigated as a homicide, Martinez said.
Several North Park residents told NBC 7 they were saddened by the incident. Many said they've noticed an uptick in the homeless population in their community.
"More than anything, I’m just sad for the homeless because I’ve been noticing more of them coming through the area," said Hugo Angiano.
“You have a lot of homeless people now that are living in the neighborhood without services to support them. The homeless problem is a bad thing out here,” added resident Herbert Willis. “I think they need more police patrols.”
The anonymous witness who heard the crime said nobody deserves to be attacked on the streets -- homeless or not.
“I understand we have a really bad homeless thing in San Diego; it’s everywhere. But the man wasn’t bothering anybody. He was in his little cubby; he was sleeping,” she said. “He’s still a human being. No matter what the circumstances are, he’s still a human being.”