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. Former F-22 Raptor Pilot

    For the record, the cops DID try to intervene verbally first. Rudy stated in response "Who the hell taught you your manners that you interrupt a man enjoying a meal?". At least Rudy's Mom taught the kid some manners, although one would think he'd at least be using a proper set of utensils.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mike e

    Will Jessie and Al claim police brutality?????

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

    This comment and you...are very disturbing. Looks like someone needs a hug and some attention.

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

    T-Virus strikes again. 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 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BioHzrd

    I'm sorry but if shooting him didn't stop him from eating the man's face and it takes several bullets to actually take him out, I don't think a taser would have done a darn thing.

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

      He seemed quite zombieish to me.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JasonPanov

    I can't wait for the mother to try suing that police officer. Easiest defense ever. Just bring in every zombie movie where some idiot won't shoot a family member who is clearly infected because "they were such nice people who always got the best Hallmark cards for everyone." What that officer did was commendable, it's people like him that will give us a fighting chance when this virus spreads out of control.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bobbo

    Somebody get this patient his meds, please.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patty Sumthin

      Apparently everyone believes that meds are what caused this tragedy. What they are calling "Bath Salts", did not cause that man to desire face food. Millions of people have done drugs & drugs just help you perform better at what you are good at. Obviously this guy was demented before the drugs came around.

      May 31, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Aaron

    It's to be expected that you get shot after chewing someone's face off. In my opinion.. it's preferable.

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

      Police should have been able to shoot him in his legs or butt to try to seduce him. This is the reason we have had riots in Miami's past.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Colleen

    Why do the police suspect he was under the influence of bath salts? Where did that come from since toxicology results arent out? Did friends confirm he was using salts? No doubt he was on something – just wondering why they assumed bath salts, his family was only aware of pot use..... Anyone out there with more info on this story?

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

      one of the symptoms of use of bath salts is that the user gets a very elevated temperature. they essentially develop a high fever. in their delusion, they often strip off all of their clothing. this is apparently pretty common when people OD on the bath salts. Sounds like this guy did an awful lot of the substance to have such a strong reaction!

      May 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Seth

    I need to go on record here and say that this guy really shouldn't have been eating that other guy's face and stuff.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sixgun Johnson

    Gotta feel sorry for Mom, though. Has to be brutal to witness your "baby"'s violent death on TV. She can't face what her kid did, well i'll not blame her for that. Just don't listen to anything she says in public.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jose Perez

    Poor little darling yes the police could have used a taser? Poor lady is dilusional.

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

      Agreed. Fighting ok, bar fight ok, but when you eat some ones face....No, you get shot. No taser.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Well, figures.

      Well, they could have. Tough call in a situation like that. I'm sure both sides have good points. Not really a win win situation any way you look at it. Gotta suck to have your kid just do something like that and have it all end that way.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Greenspam

    Didn't the mother watch any zombie movie? Once he turned into a zombie, he wouldn't recognize anyone and would eat the brains of even his closest friend/relative. May be he was a nice kid, but once a zombie, it makes no difference.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tlo07

    I don't blame the police for shooting him. They were probably in shock from what they witnessed. I'm glad the taxpayers won't be footing the bill for his prison stay. Instead we just have to pay for the medical expenses of his poor victim.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Well, figures.

      Well, and that's likely why you won't be teaching any morality and ethics classes any time soon, lol.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. David C.

    Not a zombie? Well missy, you weren't the one getting your face chewed off then, were you.

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