Florida sheriff’s deputies confronted chaos as they tried to subdue an attacker biting a victim’s face after stabbing and beating a couple to death in a random assault outside their home, recordings of radio transmissions released Tuesday show.
When a dispatcher asks the first Martin County deputy on the scene if she has the suspect controlled, she responds, “No sir, I have this guy wrapped around him and he is biting him.”
Sheriff William Snyder has said it took numerous deputies, jolts from a stun gun and a dog to pry 19-year-old college student Austin Harrouff off 59-year-old John Stevens in the Aug. 15 attack. Stevens’ 53-year-old wife, Michelle Mishcon, lay nearby.
At one point during the struggle, a garbled transmission that sounds like “Oh no” can be heard.
After Harrouff is finally subdued, the first deputy let out a plaintive sigh and then told dispatchers, “possible two ‘sevens,'” the agency’s code for dead people. Another deputy then asks for paramedics and crime scene technicians, adding “we need them in here now.” They also directed that an ambulance be sent across the street to the home of Jeff Fisher, a 47-year-old neighbor stabbed several times as he tried to rescue the couple. He has since been released from the hospital.
Harrouff remained hospitalized under guard Tuesday in critical but stable condition. Snyder said he will be charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder upon his release.
The FBI is running tests to determine whether Harrouff, who had finished his first year at Florida State University and was home for the summer, was under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs such as flakka or bath salts, both of which have been linked to violent outbursts. But Snyder said there were no traces of common street drugs – including cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine – in Harrouff’s system immediately after the attacks. There is also a possibility that Harrouff may have ingested caustic chemicals from the couple’s garage, Snyder said.
Harrouff told deputies as they arrested him that they would find no drugs in his system.
The toxicology reports will provide “a big piece of the unknown,” Snyder said.
What investigators do know is that Harrouff was having dinner with family about 4 miles from the couple’s house. Video surveillance from the restaurant shows him calmly walking out about 45 minutes before the attacks. Investigators said he apparently had words with his father. His mother later reported him missing, telling police he had been acting strangely for about a week before the attack.
The couple, who lived a short distance from Harrouff’s father, were known to sit in their garage with the door open, watching television.
Harrouff’s parents, Wade and Mina Harrouff, issued a statement last week expressing their condolences to the Stevens family and their apologies to Fisher.
Attorney Robert Watson, who is representing Harrouff, said last week that the student’s parents saw “indications of odd and unusual behavior” in him recently, but he declined to elaborate on possible mental health issues.