An 82-year-old man who was being treated for Covid-19 at a hospital north of Los Angeles was pummeled to death with an oxygen tank last week by his roommate, authorities said.
The men were sharing a double room at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, Calif., When the assault happened on Dec. 17, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
The sheriff’s department said the attack occurred when the victim began to pray, angering the roommate, identified as Jesse Martinez, 37. Mr Martinez hit the older man with an oxygen tank around 9:45 a.m., the sheriff’s department said. .
The victim, who has not yet been publicly identified, was pronounced dead the next morning. A spokeswoman for the hospital said Thursday she could not comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.
Mr. Martinez was arrested and charged with murder, hate crimes and elder abuse. The bond has been set at $ 1 million and Mr Martinez is scheduled to appear in Antelope Valley court on Monday, the sheriff’s department said. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.
It was not the first time someone has been killed in a hospital during the pandemic, as medical facilities across the country are understaffed and overcrowded, fueling fear and anxiety over the coronavirus.
In April, an 86-year-old woman died at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn after another patient pushed her for violating social distancing guidelines. The older woman had become disoriented and had grabbed the other patient’s IV holder to balance herself.
R. Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, told the Los Angeles Times in a statement that he was shocked by the death of the man who was struck with the oxygen tank.
“These families were already going through hard times and now this,” he said. “This is insane.