At least eight homeless people in Huntington Beach, none of whom knew each other, were sickened in a series of food poisonings for which one suspect has been arrested so far, a spokesperson from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Monday, June 1.
The attacks last month were random, but targeted homeless people.
“The victims were eight individuals who have no association with each other and nothing in common except that they all were homeless and were in Huntington Beach,” Kimberly Edds, public information officer for the district attorney’s office, said on Monday.
Several of the victims, one of whom is over 65, were hospitalized after eating food laced with oleoresin capsicum, a substance that the district attorney’s office described in a news release on Friday as “twice as strong as the pepper spray used by police.”
One person has been arrested but an investigation was continuing to determine whether there are other victims and additional suspects in the attacks that began in mid-May. It is possible that other attacks may have occurred in Huntington Beach and perhaps elsewhere, Edds said.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer had scheduled a joint press conference for Monday morning with Huntington Beach police and other officials to discuss the poisonings but that gathering was canceled due to the unrest over the death of George Floyd, which has included protests in Huntington Beach, Orange, Santa Ana, San Clemente and other communities in Orange County.
Few details are being released because of the continuing investigation, Edds said, adding that it was uncertain if the news conference will be rescheduled or if more information will be made available through a news release at some later date.
No one has died from the poisonings, but the victims suffered what the district attorney’s office said were symptoms that included “seizure-like symptoms, difficulty breathing, vomiting and intense mouth and stomach pain.”
At least two of the victims were hospitalized, Edds said. She could not say for how long or where. She declined to provide any other information on the victims or on the lone suspect arrested as of Monday.
Video of the victims getting sick after they ate the food was taken, but Edds could not say for certain if any of that footage had been shared on social media or by some other means.
Side effects of capsicum can include: bleeding, cough, abdominal irritation and liver damage.
Source: Orange County Register