More Victims Come Forward In Homeless Fatal Attack Series: PD

7-20-16-Homeless-Attack-New-Victims-Phillip Petrina
NBC 7 San Diego

More victims have come forward in a series of attacks on homeless in San Diego, San Diego police said. The attacks have left three men dead and two critically injured.

Homicide Captain Dave Nisleit said police are investigating reports from more victims who have come forward this week reporting Guerrero attacked them. He did not say how many victims, but said it could take days or weeks before any additional charges are filed.

Jon David Guerrero, 39, of San Diego, is charged with three counts of first degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He is also facing a special circumstance that more than one murder was committed in a series, a charge that could carry the death penalty.

He has not entered a plea to charges. At a very brief court proceeding Wednesday, Guerrero's public defender asked for a two-week continuance to the arraignment, saying he was not ready to proceed.

The killing spree has put San Diego residents on high alert, since the deadly series of attacks began June 3, as Guerrero was accused of targeting his vulnerable victims as they slept.

Wednesday, a man told NBC 7 San Diego he is positive Guerrero attacked him in Hillcrest Canyon on July 7. Phillip Petrina says the man broke his hand, his eye socket, and did severe damage to the back of his skull.

"The sun was rising and I just crashed hard," Petrina said. "The next thing I know this dude is standing over me, smashes a rock right on my hand. With every action, there's a reaction, I just got up and started socking him."

Petrina says he managed to crawl his way up the ravine to a sidewalk where he was discovered by someone going to work.

He said he was dipping in and out of consciousness but heard and saw paramedics looking down the street pointing and saying they thought they saw Petrina's assailant.

"You don't forget something like that," Petrina said. "When you're in adrenaline-style survival mode with someone throwing rocks on you while you sleep."

The dramatic homicide investigation into the series of killings began July 3, when police found the badly burned body of 53-year-old Angelo de Nardo near train tracks in Bay Ho. Investigators say they believe the homeless man died before he was set on fire.

Police released surveillance video of a man seen in a convenience store buying gasoline and a gas can minutes before De Nardo's body was discovered. The man wore a distinctive green Mao-style hat, like the one Guerrero was wearing at his arrest.

On July 4, two homeless men were discovered attacked within an hour of each other in Bay Ho and Ocean Beach in the early hours of morning around 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.

They both suffered severe trauma to the upper body. 61-year-old Manuel Mason remains in critical condition. 41-year-old Shawn Longley died from the vicious assault.

Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey said Tuesday at Guerrero's scheduled arraignment that Mason had made modest improvements and will be able to testify.

On July 6, 23-year-old Derek Vahidy was found attacked and lit on fire in Pantoja Park near State and G Streets. He later died in the hospital.

A witness told NBC7 he heard a series of four or five loud bangs before seeing a man run up and spray something on Vahidy then light him on fire.

"I can't get it out of my mind seeing that guy put the other guy on fire. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it," said the witness who lives nearby the spot where Vahidy was killed.

The witness said a Good Samaritan rushed in to remove the burning towel from Vahidy's head as he lay moaning in pain. The Good Samaritan told NBC7 what the killer did to Vahidy was "seriously [expletive] up" and described it as "more violent than Bagdad."

The day Petrina gave for his attack was one day after Vahidy was found fatally injured, July 7. No other attacks on the homeless possibly connected to the series were reported that day.

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