LAKEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — The baseball-bat beating that killed a 74-year-old man inside a Southern California Walmart store appears to be random, a homicide investigator said Wednesday.
"That's one of the biggest questions ... and it's what makes this case so disturbing," Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Eddie Hernandez told the Long Beach Press-Telegram (http://bit.ly/tTEy1V ). "It's just almost unbelievable to think something this brutal could be so random and unprovoked."
The suspect taken into custody outside the Lakewood store following Tuesday's attack was a local transient, Richard Lawrence Kalfin.
Kalfin, 46, was arrested on suspicion of murder and was being held on $1 million bail.
Investigators believe the assault was a random act of violence.
"We express our deepest condolences to the family of this man as they grieve the loss of their loved one," Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said in a statement. "We are working closely with law enforcement to offer what information we have such as surveillance video that might help with the investigation."
Witnesses told KCAL-TV that a man who appeared to be homeless asked a man for money in the sporting goods section of the store Tuesday afternoon. When the man refused, the other grabbed an aluminum baseball bat and started swinging.
Jennifer Thompson was one aisle over from where the beating occurred.
"It was very scary — very, very scary, to hear the noise of someone's life being taken away," she told KCAL-TV. "Noises like moans and groans ... you could hear when he hit him. It was awful, so awful. And then I went around the corner and peeked ... and he just walked out like it was nothing."
Hernandez said, however, that surveillance camera video showed that no words were exchanged in the store before the attack, although it was unclear what might have occurred outside.
"It was one of the most disturbing videos I've ever seen," the homicide investigator said.
The victim suffered head wounds and died at the scene.
It was the second violent incident at the store this year. In August, police used beanbag rounds to subdue another incoherent man who brandished two knives at a McDonald's inside the same Walmart.