Teenagers call it "bum-hunting" and it is a perverse national trend. Across the country, packs of teenage boys are stalking homeless people and attacking them, shooting them with paintball guns, beating them with baseball bats, even dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire. Over the last five years, at least one homeless person has been murdered each month, for no apparent reason.
Homeless advocates say that if any other group was being targeted like this, there'd be a national outcry. But as correspondent Ed Bradley reports, the only thing that seems to spark any outrage is when one of these attacks is captured on video.
Last January in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., two teenagers were caught on video surveillance tape as they beat a homeless man with baseball bats and ran away. The man survived. But that same night, the same kids beat another homeless man, 45-year-old Norris Gaynor, to death.
Seventeen-year-old Thomas Daugherty and 18-year-old Brian Hooks were identified by more than a dozen classmates as the boys on the tape. Still, they pled "not guilty" and are awaiting trial.
Since people living on the streets usually don't report crime, there are no reliable government statistics. But the National Coalition for the Homeless, using local news reports and other sources, says that since 1999 there have been more than 500 such attacks, resulting in 180 deaths.
One of those killed was 53-year-old Michael Roberts, who was attacked in Holly Hill, Fla. in May 2005. Four teens, aged 14 through 18 confessed to the crime, saying they stumbled across Roberts in the woods where they had gone to smoke pot. Off and on over three hours, they beat him to death.
Jeffrey Spurgeon was the oldest member of the group. "The main thing that I can't keep out of my head. That I keep thinking about 24/7 is Michael asking for help, and asking us stop, and screaming for help," Spurgeon says.
Bradley met Spurgeon at his new home, a state prison in Jasper, Fla., where he has been sentenced to spend the next 35 years. He told 60 Minutes his 14-year-old, 220-pound friend, Chris Scamahorn, started the attack.