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. deedde

    The mother is right. Rudy should have been captured alive, restrained, and fed to a lion. Maybe his "bath salts" could have helped him in that regard.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Unbelievable

    Go ahead and sue the cops. I can't wait till they call the man with no face on the stand to testify. Lets see then if the mother thinks her son is a good person.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JEM

    Eating someone's face off sounds like a crime of a white man rather than a black man. I guess black and white people really are learning to live among each other as one people where color no longer matters.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gleek Skrunk

    So he read the Bible and then went out and ate someone's face, huh? Maybe they should think about banning that book. You know they'd be screaming for a ban if he'd been an avid video gamer, right?

    May 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hello

    Maybe the cops should show mommy the nice video of her loving son as he fed on his victim's face..

    May 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mac

    I'm seeing this start a new trend in greeting cards. Halmark's Zombie collection.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. drivinganddaydreaming

    This sounds a lot like the effects of PCP or Angel Dust. PCP went out of style because the customers died out quickly due to belief that they could fly, stop bullets, etc. I wonder about the chemical similarities. As this incident is bringing this new scourge into the light, I suspect that there will be detailed chemical and medical analysis forthcoming. "It's one of those things we wish we could dis-invent." (Stanley Goodspeed in The Rock)

    May 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. disagreement

    To the mom, I'm sorry your son had to go out like this, but the victim is still alive and when and if he recovers... what is his life gonna be like? I saw the picture of him today and it is absolutely the most effed up thing I've seen in a long time.

    I really wish the victim could get the sympathy he deserves even though he wasn't an attractive, rich blonde girl who had to lose several limbs. Losing your entire face is way worse in my opinion. I can't see any scenario where I would still want to live. I really hope that there is something that can be done for this man to give him hope.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jerry McScribbles

    I would just like to say that the NBA is fixed.The Miami Heat get every single call and the refs are being paid off.The NBA will see that the most overrated player in the history of basketball gets his ring.The Celtics have no chance because the refs will never allow them to win.Dewayne Wade is a crybaby who constantly whines like a little girl.Basically, anytimeyou play the Heat, you will have to shoot 75% from the field because you will be playing them and the refs.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ted

    I wonder how many years it would've taken Trayvon to turn into a zombie.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      We won't know because thankfully Zimmerman shot him.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • LVReader702

      I wonder how long cowards will hide behind their anonymous handles. You would never have the courage to say that in an open forum and people would be able to ID you. Chicken Sticks – ticks + hit!

      May 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andy

    The fact that he carried a bible with him everywhere supports his deluded actions!

    May 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Network

      Hate much?

      May 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Your deluded comment makes me think someone should shoot you.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bob barker

    This takes the phrase..." The homeless in our society are often nameless and faceless" to a whole other meaning.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ithappensallthetime

      Messed up but made me laugh none the less!!!!!!! I am sooo re-using this!

      May 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MyOpinion07

    This story literally disgusts me. I feel absolutely horrible for the poor, homeless man – who has lived being homeless for decades and now had his face! It is just heartbreaking. I can only imagine the dude who did it was on drugs because I can't imagine that any human would EVER do something like this is broad daylight. There are cannibals out there but typically they don't act out on the street like this. Regardless, if someone chewed off my loved ones face – I'd want them dead. Period. Too bad but it's true.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ckbabs

    One of the first thing we learned in self defense class, taught by police officers, is that tasers, mase etc have no effect on someone using hard drugs. Their bodies do not react like a sober person. The police officer even said he'd tased a resisting, violent female criminal once and she started laughing... Laughing?
    Unfortunately shooting the man was the only option in order to save the innocent man's life.... tragic.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TBN

    How do you know it was unprovoked? Who's to say he did not have Jelly on his face

    May 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
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