Naked Fla. man shot to death after biting teen's face
The 18-year-old was bitten all over his face and was the last of three people attacked during the bizarre rampage that ended when deputies shot the naked 28-year-old man
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — When a naked, growling stranger moving with "super human" strength went after his little sister, Tony Grein did what he says any brother would do: He fought back.
For his bravery, the 18-year-old was bitten all over his face, his attacker's teeth leaving marks in his skin and his ear.
Grein was the last of three people attacked during a bizarre rampage Tuesday that ended when deputies shot Anesson Joseph, 28, outside a West Delray neighborhood. An eyewitness to the shooting said deputies did the "right thing."
"I look at the deputies as heroes," said Robert Friskney, 50, who was headed to his home in The Colony at the time of the standoff and watched the shooting in shock from his car.
The bullets ended Joseph's wild spree, which Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw speculated may have been drug-fueled. Authorities have not said what drugs Joseph may have been on. But Bradshaw said Joseph, who was 6-foot, 3-inches tall and weighed 250 pounds, could have done a lot more damage.
The sheriff said deputies "probably stopped a lot of other people from getting hurt really bad tonight." The deputy who fired the shots has been put on administrative leave, standard procedure in such cases.
The savage sequence of events unfolded around 8:30 p.m. on South Military Trail north of Lake Ida Road.
Beside Grein, deputies say Joseph attacked 66-year-old Douglas Kozlik, a retired New York City cop, and an unidentified 10-year-old boy, who tried to scramble under a fence to escape. All were injured and hospitalized, but are expected to survive.
Grein's family joined Friskney in supporting what the deputies did.
"He was running around like an animal – no shoes, nothing – just like a wild animal in for the kill and trying to cannibalize my nephew," said Gigi Grein, 53.
"This is kind of like something you see out of a zombie movie," said Tony Grein's dad, Mario. "They had no choice. They had to take him down."
The attack on Tony Grein was reminiscent of an infamous May 2012 "zombie" attack on Miami's MacArthur Causeway, in which a naked man savaged a homeless man, chewing off most of his face. The attacker in that case, 31-year-old Rudy Eugene, was also shot and killed by police.
Tony Grein said he thought of the "Causeway Cannibal" assault as Joseph, who he said was "built like a rock," bit down on him.
"There's a lot of things that go through your head when you think you're about to die," the teen recalled. "I was honestly panicking, scared he was going to rip off my face because of what happened in Miami.
But then – after Grein pulled out a boxcutter and his dad came running to help – his attacker took off, tearing down the street.
Authorities have not said what led up to, or sparked, Joseph's behavior. Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said detectives believe he may have stripped off a striped polo, dark shorts and flip flops near the intersection of Canal View Drive and Pine Tree Drive.
The clothing was still missing Wednesday.
Joseph's family and friends could not be reached for comment, despite calls. State records show he had no criminal record in Florida. He was involved in a West Palm Beach entertainment company called Nightlife University Parties and Events, LLC. His Facebook page says he attended Forest Hill Community High School and previously worked at Starbucks.
Deputies say Joseph appeared to be "in a state of psychosis" when they encountered him at the gates of The Colony. They tried to reason with him, but he took a "fighting stance" and charged one of the deputies, according to Barbera.
She said a Taser was useless against Joseph, so one of the deputies fired shots, hitting him once in the torso and twice in his lower body. Joseph fell to the ground, but still flailed around and tried to get back to his feet.
He continued fighting when paramedics arrived to treat him, but was finally subdued and taken to Delray Medical Center, where he later died. Bradshaw said Tuesday authorities don't know whether the cause of death was the shooting, drugs or something else.
Friskney said he was shocked by what unfolded in front of him.
"Honestly, it was like watching a movie," he said. "It was so surreal. I just couldn't believe what I was watching. And of course, after the incident, the only thing I could think about was getting home to make sure my wife and kids were safe and to make sure they knew I was safe."
Tony Grein was released from the hospital early Wednesday morning. The scars on his face and ear are expected to heal, and he said he would do it all over again to protect his sister. His dad said he's happy things didn't turn out worse.
But he's nagged by all the unanswered questions.
"Why would he do that?" Mario Grein said. "I wish I had some answers as to why he would do that, how this all started."
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