- A man has been charged with poisoning a group of homeless people in Huntington Beach, California.
- Prosecutors accused William Robert Cable of using a substance twice as strong as pepper spray to tamper with food that was offered to at least eight people, and then filming their reactions.
- Some suffered from seizure-like symptoms, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and intense mouth and stomach pain, prosecutors say. At least two were hospitalized.
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Police have arrested a 38-year-old man they say poisoned eight homeless people in Huntington Beach, California, with a substance twice as strong as pepper spray.
Some of the victims were told they were participating in a “spicy food challenge” before they were given a food laced with oleoresin capsicum, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office. As the victims suffered, they were videotaped, the office said.
Some experienced symptoms included a seizure-like response, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and intense mouth and stomach pain, prosecutors alleged. Several were hospitalized. The series of attacks began in mid-May, the district attorney’s office said.
“These human beings were preyed upon because they are vulnerable,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “They were exploited and poisoned as part of a twisted form of entertainment, and their pain was recorded so that it could be relived by their attacker over and over again.”
William Robert Cable, 38, of San Andreas, California, has been charged with eight felony counts of poisoning, one felony count of inflicting injury on an elderly person, and an infraction for consuming alcohol or smoking marijuana while driving.
He also faces eight misdemeanour counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but it wasn’t clear what role the child played in the attacks or how the boy or girl is related to Cable.
“The inhumane nature of the crimes combined with targeting a vulnerable population shocks the conscience,” Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy said in a written statement. “The fact an adult criminal would involve a juvenile is even more reprehensible.”
While many of the victims were unaware the food they were eating was tampered with, some were enticed to eat it using beer or other food, prosecutors said.
Orange County, which included Huntington Beach, has a high population of people living without homes.
County officials believe there could be other victims and are asking for the public’s help in identifying them.
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