FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.— A 19-year-old Florida State University student with no criminal record fatally stabbed a couple at random outside their house, wounded their neighbor and was biting the dead man’s face when deputies finally subdued him, authorities said Tuesday.
Austin Harrouff, a former high school football defensive lineman and wrestler, may have been on hallucinogenic drugs when he attacked Michelle Mishcon, 53, and John Stevens, 59, outside their home in Tequesta, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said.
The sheriff said Harrouff had joined his family for dinner at a restaurant a short distance away when he stormed off, apparently agitated about slow service. His parents were so worried by his behavior that they called police and some of his fraternity brothers in an attempt to find him before the attack.
About 45 minutes later, he apparently targeted the couple at random, the sheriff said.
“It’s inexplicable,” Snyder said. “One of the first things we try to do at a crime scene is try to understand the motive of the offender, because it is the motive of the offender that gets us going in the right direction. In this case, we can’t establish a motive. It’s ‘I don’t know.'”
Snyder said late Tuesday that Harrouff’s condition deteriorated and he may not survive. Earlier, Snyder said Harrouff suffered bruises, dog bites and cuts and had been jolted with a stun gun during his altercation with deputies. He is being held under guard at a hospital and has not been formally charged.
Snyder said Harrouff stormed out of the nearby Duffy’s, a popular sports bar and restaurant, at about 8:30 p.m. He said the would-be rescuer, identified by family as 47-year-old Jeff Fisher, called 911 at 9:20 p.m. to report the attack, which apparently began in the garage where the couple liked to sit at night.
A sophomore majoring in exercise science, Harrouff is muscular — rosters from Suncoast Community High School in nearby Riviera Beach listed himat 6-feet tall and 200 pounds. But a football teammate said his lack of aggression frustrated his coaches.
“The coaches would always try to get him mad and play angry, and he never had it in him. I didn’t think he would hurt a fly,” quarterback Matt Dame told The Palm Beach Post. Dame now plays at Columbia University.
When the first deputy arrived at the couples’ home, she used her Taser on Harrouff, but it didn’t faze him, Snyder said. She tried pulling him off Stevens’ body, but couldn’t. Other deputies arrived shortly along with a dog and it took all of them to subdue Harrouff. Snyder said they didn’t shoot, fearing their bullets would strike the victim.