A 37-year-old California man was arrested for striking a senior citizen with an oxygen tank. The reason — the older man was praying. The men shared a room in a California hospital when the older man began to pray, enraging the younger man.
The two men didn’t know each other.
Jesse Martinez, 37, was charged with murder and elder abuse late last week for the December 17 incident, which left the 82-year-old Hispanic man with injuries that he succumbed to the following day, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The Washington Post reported that the elderly man, who was sick with COVID-19, “leaned on his Catholic faith and began to pray.” The two men were both receiving treatment for COVID-19 at the Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California, a region where hospital resources have been stretched thin.
The motive for the attack was not clear, and it is not clear why Martinez became angry when the man started praying. The incident remains under investigation.
“These families were already experiencing a hardship, and now this,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris (R) in a statement to The Los Angeles Times. He called the incident “senseless” and said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear about the man’s death.
Martinez was charged with murder, hate-crime enhancement, and elder abuse, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said this week.
Martinez will appear before a judge at the Antelope Valley Court on December 28, ten days after the fatal attack. He is being held on $1,000,000 bail at Twin Towers Correctional Facility, reports the Post. It’s not clear whether he has a lawyer or has any prior criminal history.