A patient at a psychiatric hospital in South Florida brutally beat up a roommate for about seven minutes and ripped the man’s eyes out of his sockets — leaving him permanently blind, police said Monday.
“The victim is permanently blind due to his injuries,” Pembroke Pines police spokeswoman Amanda Conwell told the Miami Herald.
At around 4:45 p.m. Friday, Pembroke Pines officers responded to South Florida State Hospital, 800 East Cypress Drive, following a 911 call about an altercation between two patients, authorities said in the suspect’s arrest report. Police noted they weren’t notified until about an hour after the attack, which began at 3:47 p.m. — and that the hospital staff had started to clean the crime scene when the facility’s chief of staff told them to stop.
A review of the 350-bed state hospital’s security footage revealed the suspect and his bunkmate, who are both adults court ordered to be at the facility, were involved in an argument over a towel hanging on the door that turned physical, police said. The Herald is not identifying the suspect because of the sensitive nature of the incident.
“The suspect punched the victim in the face and then dragged him onto the ground,” police said in a news release. “Once on the ground, the suspect continued to punch the victim and eventually, the suspect pulled both of the victim’s eyes out of his eye-sockets.”
Police said that another patient walking by saw what was going on and alerted hospital staff approximately seven minutes into the attack. Officers added in the arrest report that the nurses at the psychiatric hospital put the man’s eyes on ice.
Paramedics arrived at the mental health facility at 4:03 p.m. and took the victim — and his eyes — to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, where he remained hospitalized as of Monday afternoon
“It was determined by the hospital that the victim has permanent loss of sight in both eyes and the eyes provided could not be re-attached,” officers wrote in the police report.
The suspect was taken on a charge of aggravated battery to Broward Sheriff’s Office Main Jail, where he remained as of Tuesday morning.
Wellpath Recovery Solutions, selected by the Florida Department of Children and Families in 1998 to operate the psychiatric hospital, hadn’t responded to the Herald’s multiple requests for comment as of Tuesday afternoon. DCF didn’t immediately say whether it is investigating the incident.
Not the first attack at South Florida State Hospital?
The brutal attack Friday wasn’t the first one between patients at South Florida State Hospital in recent years, police records reveal.
A little over a year ago, Sept. 13, one of the facility’s patients violently punched and stomped his bunkmate — who was found by a staff member covered in blood during a routine morning check, investigators said. The victim died three days following the attack after suffering from brain bleed, lung swelling, lacerated liver and spleen, an eye fracture and a sinus wall hemorrhage.
In June, the suspect’s murder case was transferred from Broward court’s criminal division to its mental health division because he was deemed incompetent to proceed, records show. His next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 10.