Surveillance video shows face-biting suspect before deadly attack
TEQUESTA -- Authorities in south Florida have released surveillance video of a Florida State University student in a restaurant shortly before authorities say he killed a couple in a seemingly random, possibly drug-fueled attack
The Martin County Sheriff’s office says it took multiple deputies – one of whom deployed a Taser – and a K-9 to subdue Austin Harrouff after he fatally beat and stabbed John Stevens III, 59; and his wife Michelle Mishcon, 53, Monday night in a quiet neighborhood north of Jupiter. Sheriff William Snyder said Harrouff was “abnormally strong,” growling like an animal and biting off pieces of Stevens’ face.
The surveillance video released Friday, obtained by CBS affiliate WPEC,shows Harrouff at Duffy’s, a popular Jupiter sports bar about three miles from the crime scene. He’s pictured walking through the restaurant wearing white shorts, a blue shirt and a red hat. His mother later told a 911 dispatcher the hat read “Make America Great Again,” the campaign slogan for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The sheriff said Harrouff was having dinner with his father and sister around 8:30 p.m. Monday when he stormed out, apparently agitated about slow service. His parents were so worried about his behavior they called police and some of his friends in a futile attempt to find him.
Police have said they believe Harrouff was on foot, walking towards his father’s home, when for unknown reasons he turned onto the street ahead of the one where his father lived. That’s where he allegedly attacked the couple, who were sitting outside in their garage, about 45 minutes after leaving the restaurant.
Neighbor Jeff Fisher tried to intervene,but was stabbed multiple times before he retreated back into his home and called 911.
Harrouff’s mother, Mina Harrouff, still unaware of the attack, told Jupiter Police Offficer Luis Rocha later that night that her son had been acting strangely for about a week, claiming he had superpowers and that he was “here to protect people,” the report said. She also said her son had no history of mental illness nor heavy drug use.
She also said he was carrying his pocket knife.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office said Friday Austin Harrouff is expected to be charged with first-degree murder, meaning he’ll face capital punishment or life without parole. He also will face an attempted first-degree murder charge for allegedly stabbing their neighbor, Jeff Fisher.
Harrouff is conscious but heavily sedated and under armed guard in a hospital, according to the sheriff’s office. Snyder suggested earlier in the week that he’s in no hurry to make the charges official, since the man’s family or insurance must pay his hospital bills until he’s formally charged.
Snyder also has said that investigators “know the who, the what, the when, the where and the how” of the attack, but the why remains a mystery.
Solving that mystery doesn’t matter so much to the children of Stevens and Mishcon. Stevens’ children said they want him to face execution.
“It is not super important to me what his mindset was,” John Stevens IV told the SunSentinel on Thursday. “I just want to see the prosecutor ask for the death penalty. I want him to go through that process and to pay for what he did.”
Ivy Stevens agreed: “I hope he makes a full recovery so he can be put through the justice system.”
Snyder said tests for substances in Harrouff’s system may help explain why the student with no history of criminal behavior became extraordinarily violent.
Hospital blood tests showed no signs of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin or other common drugs; it will take longer to test for less common hallucinogenic drugs such as flakka or bath salts. In a video he recently posted online, Harrouff suggested he may have taken steroids in the past, but said he doesn’t use them now.
Attorney Robert Watson, who said he’s representing Harrouff, told TC Palm that the student’s parents saw “indications of odd and unusual behavior” in him recently, but he declined to elaborate on possible mental health issues.
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