Austin Harrouff, a 19-year-old fraternity brother from Florida State University, allegedly stabbed a husband and wife to death, then tried to eat part of the male victim’s face. Authorities suspect the student was high on the synthetic drug flakka, a psychoactive stimulant.
According to People, Harrouff originally gave officers a fake name when he was picked up Monday night. During a press conference Tuesday, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder revealed that he was found trying to bite off chunks of the man’s face.
“What pushed our Florida State student into this?” Snyder asked Tuesday. “We do not know.”
Harrouff reportedly went out to dinner with friends prior to the attack, but stormed out of the restaurant upset. In response, several of his fraternity brothers went looking for him around the neighborhood.
Snyder told reporters Monday that officers arrived in the driveway of a Tequesta home and began “trying to pull the suspect off of the victim.” He was “abnormally strong” and it took four police officers, a police dog and repeated use of a stun gun to get him under control.
“They had no success. They used as much force as they physically were able to and they were still not able to get him off,” Snyder said. “Finally, another unit arrived with a K-9 and it bit the suspect, they still couldn’t get him off.”
He continued: “Ultimately, though, using as much force as they were physically able to, they were finally able to get the suspect, the offender, off of the victim.”
Synder described Harrouff as animal-like and said he was grunting, growling and relatively incoherent when taken to the hospital.
Snyder also said that Harrouff allegedly attacked the couple as they were sitting in their “open garage,” and said there is no evidence that links the attacker to his victims, calling the incident a “random” and “unprovoked” attack. The woman was found dead in the garage, along with her husband, who suffered an “unusual amount of trauma,” suffering from stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the body and head.
Jeff Fisher, the couple’s 47-year-old neighbor, reportedly ran to the Stevens’ home to help after hearing their screams. He also suffered multiple stab wounds but was able to call 911.
Snyder also said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Harrouff was under the influence of flakka, though they have to wait for a completed toxicology report for official answers.
“When you see a case like this where someone is biting off pieces of somebody’s face, could it be flakka?” Snyder said. “The answer is it absolutely could be a flakka case.”
UPDATE – 8/17/2016
Harrouff’s mother told officers that her son had been acting strange for several days before the attack. He claimed he had superpowers and was “here to protect people,” according to a report released Wednesday. He had no prior history of mental illness or heavy drug use.
Mina Harrouff called Jupiter police roughly three hours after Austin stormed out of a restaurant — he had apparently had an argument with his father — but was not believed to be a danger to himself or anyone else. Only 45 minutes after leaving the restaurant, Harrouff was found attacking John Stevens and his wife Michelle.
Harrouff tested negative for cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and other common drugs, but that further tests would be conducted to see if he had ingested a hallucinogenic drug like flakka or bath salts.