Update Aug. 18: Activists are questioning why police were able to subdue Harrouff during his violent attack with non-lethal weapons while many black suspects have been shot in far less threatening situations.
Update Aug. 17: Michelle Mischon Stevens, one of the victims killed in Harrouff's attack, was the daughter of longtime North Miami Beach Mayor Jeff Mischcon. Read more about both victims here.
In 2013, Austin Harrouff was starring as a defensive tackle at Suncoast Community High, a Palm Beach County school ranked among Newsweek's ten best in America at least eight times in the past decade. He'd also been taking advanced-placement classes in the school's International Baccalaureate program.
So it's anyone's guess how he ended up in a Martin County garage yesterday, chewing off parts of a stranger's face after killing the man and his wife and stabbing their neighbor.
Late Monday, Martin County Sheriff's deputies say, Harrouff, a 19-year-old Florida State University student, was eating dinner with his parents at a local sports bar when he apparently got angry about something and stormed out. According to the Miami Herald, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told reporters today that Harrouff had been visiting his Tequesta hometown with some of his fraternity brothers from FSU.
But after Harrouff left, possibly angry at the restaurant's slow service, police found him in the midst of a horrifying scene.
In what Snyder called a "completely unprovoked and random attack," Harrouff approached a married couple — identified as Michelle Mishcon, 53, and her husband John Stevens III, 59 — who'd been sitting calmly in their garage with the door lifted open. Harrouff then allegedly stabbed the couple to death with what cops think was a switchblade. When a neighbor tried to intervene and called 911, Harrouff stabbed him too.
When police arrived, they found Harrouff "grunting and growling" and "making animal noises" over one of the bodies — while also tearing chunks out of the man's face with his teeth.
Cops discharged their stun guns at Harrouff — multiple times — but were unable to pull him from the man. A police dog couldn't stop Harrouff either. Eventually, it took three cops to pull him away. The neighbor, who survived the attack, reportedly underwent surgery today.
But Harrouff's online presence shows that, as recently as 2013, the college student appeared to have everything going for him.
According to Harrouff's page on ncsasports.org, Harrouff had been taking advanced-placement classes at the high school and gunning for a football scholarship before graduating in 2015. According to his recruiting profile, Harrouff was 6 feet tall, weighed 200 pounds, and could bench-press 365 pounds as a high-school student.
Harrouff also wrote a personal statement online:
I am enrolled in the IB program at Suncoast Community High School. According to Newsweek, Suncoast was #9 of 2013's America's best high schools.It is a rigorous academic program and I have maintained a 3.35 GPA. I am seeking to attend a pre-med program in college. I would love to play football in college while attaining this goal.
I joined the football team in my freshman year. I mainly played as a defensive tackler. This coming year, i will be playing on both the defensive and offensive line. I have learned to discipline myself on and off the field. I have conditioned my body in a short period of time to be one of the strongest on the team. I paused pressed 365 Ibs by my junior year. Off season, I joined the wrestling team in my sophomore year and I was the most improved player by my junior year. I will be the captain in my senior year. I placed third in the district. I also joined the weightlifting team this past year and made second in the district. I also have a more current hudl video at http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1081726/highlights/66794375
I would be a great asset to your football team. I love the competitiveness of the game and I have the drive to improve. Thank you for considering me.
Here's a clip from one of his his highlight reels:
Though Harrouff never quite made it as a football star, yesterday's attack marks a particular fall from grace.
This week's crime will forever be mentioned in the same breath as that of Miami man Rudy Eugene, who was famously caught in 2012 eating the face of a homeless man in the shadow of the MacArthur Causeway.
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Many have speculated online about synthetic drugs playing a role in both cases, but there's little evidence. Toxicology reports found only marijuana in Eugene's system in 2012, though medical experts said at the time that it was next to impossible that pot alone had provoked that attack.
As for Harrouff: Police say his body temperature wasn't elevated at the time of the attack, which might rule out flakka, the synthetic drug that makes body temps soar. That, however, does not rule out other synthetic drugs playing a role.
At the moment, Harrouff is reportedly sedated in a Palm Beach County hospital. As for why Florida is now home to multiple face-eating zombies — that's a question for whatever gods created this forsaken place.
Correction: This piece previously listed Harrouff as a member of an incorrect fraternity.