Police on Saturday identified two Plantation teenagers as the pair seen on a security video grinning while beating a homeless man Thursday in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Family attorneys were negotiating the surrender of Brian Hooks, 18, and Thomas S. Daugherty, 17, who will face murder charges in the death of one homeless man and aggravated-battery charges in the beating of two others. Both teens were out of state Saturday, police said.
"Probable cause exists for the arrest of Daugherty and Hooks for murder and aggravated battery," said Detective Katherine Collins, spokeswoman for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
Police searched the teens' Plantation Isles homes Saturday evening and an investigator left Hooks' home with a baseball bat.
The two are the only teens named in connection with the videotaped beating attack on Jacques Pierre, 58, on the Fort Lauderdale campus of Florida Atlantic University early Thursday morning. Police also named the teens in the death of Norris Gaynor, 45, who was killed a few blocks away in Riverwalk Linear Park near the Esplanade Pavilion, and in the beating of Raymond Perez, 49, in a Church-by-the-Sea garden. Both survivors were listed in fair condition at Broward General Medical Center Saturday, and doctors expected to release them in the next few days.
Police said Hooks wore black in the video, while Daugherty did most of the attacking.
Police have said as many as four teens, possibly using a white van, were involved in the attacks.
A man at Hooks' home declined to comment to reporters after police finished their search. Both teens' families were unreachable for comment.
Fellow students described Hooks as an avid fisherman and boater who graduated last year. Last year, he was captain of the South Plantation Paladins inline hockey team.
Daugherty recently dropped out of Plantation High School and joined a vocational program, according to students who know him.
Police chased hundreds of tips after releasing the video of Perez's beating.
Police also monitored a racing Web site message board that has several postings about the beatings. One person mentioned Daugherty's name in connection with the attacks within 24 hours of the FAU incident.
Most of the people posting on a thread about the beating denounced the attacks. One poster who said he played hockey with one of the teens said the two claimed they were going camping the day of the beatings and hadn't been seen since.
Most who said they know the two were shocked by the accusations.
"We've grown up with these kids. It's kind of scary," said Julie Lurie, 16. "Now everyone is kind of questioning the people they hang out with."
Lurie described Daugherty as "the sweetest kid, and very down to earth."
Some neighbors in the pair's neighborhood said they had suspected involvement by at least one of the two after seeing the beating on television.
"It's awful. It's just horrible. It's such a quiet neighborhood. I can't believe it," said Phillipa Reading, who walked a dog as police searched Daugherty's home.
As police chased down leads Saturday, advocates said the homeless often endure beatings and theft, in part because roughly 40 percent of the nation's homeless live outside rather than in shelters. The Coalition to End Homelessness estimates there are about 10,000 homeless in Broward County, although a one-day head count in 2005 found 3,314.
Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, gave Fort Lauderdale high marks for its treatment of homeless people, despite the attack. He said the city had boosted efforts to provide more shelter in recent years, and was a "model" community in terms of outreach.
Fort Lauderdale police routinely work with social workers to coax homeless men and women into facilities that can help them, for example.
"Fort Lauderdale is very unique. Social workers team up every evening to go out and interact with the homeless, rather than arrest them for the act of sleeping, or begging," he said.
Looking forward, he said the city could alleviate the problem further by providing more low-income housing.
"A large number of homeless people are forced to live outside. That's the No. 1 issue. If everyone had a home with a key, a door, a lock, they'd be safe for the night." With local housing prices soaring, he added, "That is something Broward needs a lot more work on."
Killings of homeless people occurred at a rate of about two a month in the United States in 2004, according to statistics compiled by the Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition for the Homeless. That's a large increase from 2003, when there were nine attacks on homeless that ended in death, but much lower than the all-time high of 48 deaths in 1999.
Since 1999, 386 homeless individuals have been attacked nationwide, resulting in 156 deaths.
Gaynor, the homeless man who was killed Thursday, died after three hard years, said his younger brother, G. Russell Gaynor. "Things suddenly went sour and it was a downward spiral after that," he said.
He said he was pleased that police had made progress in the investigation.
"We're trying to cope with the loss. It's one thing to have a death, because life ends," G. Russell Gaynor said. "It's another thing to have it so violently taken away from you."
Staff Writer Macollvie Jean-Francois and Jaime Malernee and Staff Researcher William Lucey contributed reporting to this story.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun