Austin Harrouff, a 19-year-old FSU student, is accused of attacking a Florida couple at random, killing both and eating one of the victim’s faces.
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Four years after a Miami “cannibal” was caught eating another man’s face, a similar zombie-like attack has been reported near Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Police say Austin Harrouff, 19, fatally stabbed a couple at “random” outside their house and wounded their neighbor Monday night. When police arrived, he was biting chunks of the dead man’s face off, according to the Miami Herald.
The newspaper reports a stun gun and K-9 dog were initially unable to stop him from continuing to attempt to eat the victim. Four deputies eventually pried him off and arrested him.
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said Harrouff, a former high school football defensive lineman and wrestler, may have been on hallucinogenic drugs when he attacked Michelle Mishcon, 53, and John Stevens, 59, in Tequesta, Fla. Less than a hour earlier, his family said he stormed off from dinner at a nearby restaurant, apparently agitated by slow service.
There’s no evidence Harrouff knew the couple, who owned a lawn service and enjoyed boating in the affluent community, leaving authorities baffled.
“It’s inexplicable,” Snyder told the Associated Press. “One of the first things we try to do at a crime scene is try to understand the motive of the offender, because it is the motive of the offender that gets us going in the right direction. In this case, we can’t establish a motive. It’s ‘I don’t know.'”
Snyder said 47-year-old neighbor Jeff Fisher called 911 to report the attack, which allegedly began in the garage where the couple was said to enjoy sitting at night. Fisher said Harrouff had stabbed him with a knife — five times, according to Fisher’s father — but he is expected to survive.
Snyder told the AP late Tuesday that Harrouff is being held under guard at a hospital, where he may not survive. Harrouff suffered bruises, dog bites and cuts as deputies tried to subdue him with a stun gun.
Harrouff, a sophomore majoring in exercise science at Florida State University, had no criminal record. Police said his blood is being tested for evidence of flakka or bath salts, “which are known to cause what we call the excited delirium.”
Bath salts, a synthetic drug, were blamed in similar zombie-like attacks in 2012 and 2013. According to the AP, flakka had a brief burst in popularity in late 2014 and 2015, primarily in South Florida, but its usage quickly waned after stories circulated about users’ deaths and mental breakdowns, plus a crackdown in Chinese manufacturing.
A lawyer for Harrouff told NBC he was working at home for the summer and declined to speculate on the possible drug use.
“There are mental health issues that will have to be investigated here, we don’t know if anything is going to show up on toxicology reports, there’s a lot of unknowns and unanswered questions and things we may never know,” attorney Michelle Suskauer said.
A former teammate at Suncoast Community High School said he couldn’t believe Harrouff would attack someone. Matt Dame, a quarterback currently at Columbia University, told The Palm Beach Post that coaches were frustrated with Harrouff’s aggression, even at 6-feet tall and 200 pounds.
“The coaches would always try to get him mad and play angry, and he never had it in him. I didn’t think he would hurt a fly,” Dame said.