Miami cannibal attack victim Ronald Poppo, before and after
The Miami cannibal attack occurred on May 26, 2012, when Rudy Eugene assaulted Ronald Poppo on the MacArthur Causeway in Miami, Florida. During the 18-minute filmed encounter, Eugene (who was himself stripped nude) accused Poppo of stealing his Bible, beat him unconscious, removed Poppo’s pants, and bit off most of Poppo’s face above the beard, including his left eye, leaving him blind in both. As a result of the incident’s shocking nature and subsequent worldwide media coverage, Eugene came to be dubbed the “Miami Zombie” as well as the “Causeway Cannibal”. The attack ended when Eugene was fatally shot by a Miami police officer.
The morning of May 26, 2012, Eugene drove to Miami Beach, to Urban Beach Week. His flag-draped purple Chevrolet Caprice eventually became disabled, and, after spending 30–40 minutes filmed on security video in and around the car, according to eyewitnesses he abandoned it about noon and began to cross the three-mile long span of the MacArthur Causeway, stripping himself of his clothing and disposing of his driver’s license as he advanced westward. His vehicle was eventually discovered and towed by Miami Beach police. Inside the car, police discovered a Bible and five empty water bottles, which they believe were recently consumed.
Eugene, eventually completely naked, having discarded even his shoes and lastly his Bible at the crime scene, encountered Poppo at approximately 1:55 pm. Poppo had been lying underneath an elevated Metromover railway when Eugene began to pummel him, strip him of his pants, and bite his face. The attack unfolded at the west end of the MacArthur Causeway, near the headquarters of The Miami Herald in the Omni neighborhood of Downtown Miami. It was at first believed that neither Eugene nor Poppo knew the other before their encounter, until a July 2012 publication revealed that Eugene had met Poppo while working for the homeless community of Miami. A passing cyclist, Larry Vega, came upon the scene and alerted authorities via 9-1-1. A few minutes later, Miami Police Department officer Jose Ramirez arrived and, after doing a double take at the spectacle, warned Eugene to desist from attacking Poppo. Eugene ignored the officer’s warnings and, instead, reportedly growled at him, then resumed biting his victim. The attack ended at 2:13 PM with Officer Ramirez shooting Eugene once at first and then another four times when that proved ineffective. The ordeal had been captured by a security camera on The Miami Herald building. The surveillance video shows that the attack continued for 18 minutes before help arrived.
Poppo, age 65, was admitted into Jackson Memorial Hospital, critically injured, with 75–80% of his face above the beard missing and his left eye gouged out in the attack. He is expected to undergo facial reconstruction surgeries that will possibly take months to complete and will remain permanently disfigured. To combat the costs, a fund was set up and has collected $100,700 since July 17, 2012. Poppo, who lost sight in both his eyes, spoke to police, whom he thanked for saving his life, on July 19, explaining that Eugene, whom he hardly knew, approached him in a friendly manner but then, complaining he couldn’t “score” at the beach and “souped up on something”, started talk about how they were going to die, accused Poppo of stealing his bible, and, suddenly and without provocation, attacked and strangled him with wrestling holds, and then “plucked out” both his eyes.
Visit the website for the Ronald Poppo Foundation