May 31st, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Face-attack suspect's mother: My son 'was no zombie'

The mother of Rudy Eugene, who was shot and killed by a police officer as he chewed the face off a homeless man in Miami, says her son was "a nice kid" who could have been subdued with a Taser rather than gunfire.

"He was a good kid. He gave me a nice card on Mother’s Day. Everyone says he was a zombie. He was no zombie. That was my son,” the mother, who asked that her name not be revealed, told CNN affliate WFOR.

'Zombie apocalypse' trending as bad news spreads quickly

Eugene, 31, was killed by a police officer on Saturday after an 18-minute attack on a homeless man, identified by police as 65-year-old Ronald Poppo. Video of the incident shows Eugene coming across Poppo on a sidewalk along Miami's MacArthur Causeway, stripping clothes off him and eventually chewing on his face.

Police said Poppo lost 75% of his face in the attack. He was in critical condition at a Miami hospital.

Eugene's mother said police didn't need to shoot her son.

"They could have tased him," she told WFOR. "I saw what happened on TV and I started crying.”

Eugene's girlfriend, who also requested anonymity from WFOR, said the attacker seen in that video was nothing like the man she lived with.

“He loved God. He always read the Bible. He would give you knowledge on the Bible. Everywhere he went his Bible went. When he left he had his Bible in his hand,” the girlfriend is quoted as saying.

“That wasn’t him, that was his body but it wasn’t his spirit.  Somebody did this to him,” WFOR quotes her as saying.

Fraternal Order of Police President Armando Aguilar told CNN affiliate WPLG that he suspects Eugene was under the influence of "bath salts," a drug that contains synthetic stimulants that can "cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions," according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

"He was a nice, outgoing, ready-to-help-anybody kind of guy," Cassandra Metayer, a high school friend of Eugene's, told WFOR. “Someone in their right mind doesn’t do that. This is not the act of a normal person. It has to be someone under the influence."

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, said officials won't know for certain whether drugs played a role in the attack until toxicology reports are completed in a month or so. But he said police have been seeing increased incidents of drug-induced crime in the area.

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Filed under: Crime • Drugs • Florida
soundoff (1,699 Responses)
  1. Knucklehead

    Such shabby reporting. What about the back story? How do we know this homeless guy wasn't just asking for a face-eating?

    May 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. O my science

    Eugene was also arrested on December 5th, 2008 in South Beach. Officers spotted a 1997 Mercury Sable with illegally tinted windows and pulled the car over near 14th Street and Collins Avenue. Eugene was riding in the passenger's seat. Police then detected a stench of marijuana in the car and conducted a search. The uncovered 39 plastic baggies of marijuana that Eugene had hidden in his "groin area." Initially he tried to run away, but after a police officer grabbed him by his shirt Eugene stopped resisting. The felony charges, however, were never prosecuted. Also at the time Eugene told the court he had a weekly income of $260.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Knucklehead

      But more importantly: Did he have his Bible on him?

      May 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. oeintl

    Update: Al & Jesse just left Chicago

    May 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    I don't care what his mother has to say. He was acting like a wild, vicious animal and he was treated as such. I'd have shot him to death, too. Next the zombie's family wlil find a way to blame the homeless man for being too delicious.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      I've always prefered white meat myself.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    What exactly was the growling about? Ma? and why exactly was this Bible quoting guy living with you? girlfriend? You anonymous folks have some serious questions to answer and trivial phrases to the press won't answer the mail on this one. That somebody that "did that to him" might just have been you, girlfriend.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Truth Hurts

    He was washing it down with an ice cold "lean!"

    May 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dr. Hannibal Lecter

    Mr. Eugene lacked fava beans and a nice chianti...

    May 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rob Bartlett

    You are all missing the point. SUPPOSING he was a "normal" guy, SUPPOSING his mother and girlfriend are speaking the truth about his character, SUPPOSING he did just flip out and lost his mind in a few short minutes. What caused this? Drugs, Mental health break-down, environmental conditions (like Corexit dispersant), poison from the food chain (courtesy of BP)? Did this break-down occur in a few minutes, days, months or years? The MSM like to blame drugs, racial tension or some other personal issue, but we don't know so why judge so harshly. This man could have been sick or suffering himself. His primary brain was the only thing at work, what happened to his rationale thought?

    May 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Brown

      It doesn't matter. He did this and he was shot as he was behaving incredibly violent towards another human. He ws shot. End of story. Don't over-analyze the situation.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Brown

      It doesn't matter. He did this and he was shot as he was behaving incredibly violent towards another human. He was shot. End of story. Don't over-analyze the situation.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • soundsfishie

      no explanation for crazy crap like this.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BOB

    Perhaps Hollywood was there filming the next installment of Resident Evil...........where was Milla Jovovich??

    May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. James

    Vincent Lee decapitated Tim McLean and started eating his head. Today he's walking free because he was "just sick." Glad this piece of crap was shot dead. His mom is just plain incorrect... unless she's from a twisted world where it's nice to eat living people.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Frank

    I don't know what horror movies she's watched, but every time I saw someone walking around naked, mysteriously, who was seeming normal just hours before and then proceeds to eat off someones face in fact was a Zombie.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. yolanda

    Where are Rev. Al and Jesse? Not enough TV cameras for them? No way to turn this into a race issue? No money to be made???

    May 31, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jhamilton

    That one sentence sums up most of what is wrong with this Country

    May 31, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GeorgeBos95

    While I can empathisze with the mother, I categorically reject her view of her son. He did what he did, and it's unfortunate the cops saw no alternative but to shoot him.

    To chew off someone's face, and be growling like an animal, is so far over the top it begs the question ... how can she blindly ignore the facts?

    May 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Brown

      She's the mother. Of course she'll be biased towards her son no matter what. Well, she might be appalled, but she'll still care deep down and that can affect her views as they won't be impartial like ours would likely be.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. O my science

    In Eugene's rampage against his mother, he had broken a table and smashed items around the house, and pushed her out of the kitchen.

    Eugene was charged with battery on his mother, but the charges weren't prosecuted. He served probation for resisting an officer without violence.

    His family no longer lives at the house, and his mother and father could not be located at their current addresses.

    Ruth told police after they Tased her son: "Thank God you're here. He would have killed me."

    May 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
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