Atlanta’s homeless community is on edge after police say two men sleeping on the street were fatally shot in separate incidents this week. Both victims were hit multiple times, and authorities are investigating whether the murders are linked, reported NBC affiliate WXIA.
“Please be aware that it appears that we have somebody that is targeting people that are sleeping at night, and we’re very concerned about that,” said Capt. Paul Guerrucci. He added that someone with a grudge against the homeless could be responsible for the murders.
“That is a possibility that we are seriously considering,” he added.
The first victim, in his 40s, was found dead Monday in a small park he was known for sleeping at, just a couple of blocks from Emory University Hospital in the city’s downtown, police said.
Two days later, the body of 64-year-old Tommy Mims, nicknamed Can Man, was found under a railroad bridge. Both men suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were found about two miles apart.
“We believe that most likely both were shot in the evening,” Guerrucci said.
Anita Beaty, of the Metropolitan Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, told NBC News on Friday that the city’s homeless are being vigilant as police advise them to use a “buddy system” on the streets. She is passing out fliers warning them that the perpetrator is still out there.
“This seems to be a hate crime against the homeless,” Beatty said. “All these people were asleep, wrapped up in the cold and they weren’t doing anything. What a horrible, frightening pattern.”