A suspect arrested for a string of deadly attacks on homeless men had a long history of crime and mental health issues, and was himself, living in subsidized housing for the homeless, NBC 7 has learned.
Jon David Guerrero, 39, was living in a subsidized housing complex for the poor and homeless in downtown San Diego.
The Alpha Square apartment building, located on 14th and Market streets, provides residents with a fully-furnished room and services for those in need.
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NBC 7 learned that Guererro was among the 201 tenants living in the apartment complex before he was arrested Friday morning in connection to the series of homeless murders.
Guerrero grew up in the wealthy community of Coronado, across the San Diego Bay, known for its expensive real estate and picturesque beaches. But since January he has been living in a one-room apartment on the fifth floor at Alpha Square. Homicide investigators spent several hours Friday morning searching the apartment for evidence.
The $46 million apartment building was funded by tax dollars, investment corporations and the San Diego Housing Commission through the Alpha Project.
Bob McElroy, the president of the organization, told NBC 7 that he sent outreach teams all over San Diego to warn the homeless community and urge them to sleep in groups. He said he posted information about the suspect, including pictures and a composite sketch around Alpha Square.
McElroy said he even met Guerrero.
"Nothing exceptional. Very well mannered, 'yes sir' and 'no sir'. Cordial. Quiet. Loner,” McElroy said, describing his encounter with Guerrero.
A nearly two-week manhunt ended Friday morning on Laurel Street in Banker's Hill after an officer spotted Guerrero on a bicycle and recognized him as the suspect.
Just before Guerrero's arrest, two harbor police officers driving up the 1800 block of C Street heard a man screaming and discovered a fifth homeless man had been attacked. The 55-year-old man had suffered significant trauma to his upper torso.
The suspects' parents told NBC 7 they have yet to speak with their son and are seeking guidance from an attorney.
McElroy says the family is broken-hearted and that Guerrero's mother is his caregiver.
“She's there every day. It's her son. Making sure he has groceries and his laundry is done,” McElroy said. "She's devastated."
The store clerk, whose description of Guerrero helped police create a composite sketch of the suspect, told NBC 7 in an email that he is greatly relieved to hear of the suspect's arrest, adding "I'm glad that the nightmare is over."
Police told reporters they have no doubt they nabbed the man responsible for five attacks since July 3 that left three men dead, the Associated Press reported. The victims — all homeless men — received serious upper-body injuries and two were set on fire.
Guerrero remained jailed Saturday on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.
He will be arraigned early next week.