Nathaniel Petgrave, a 22-year-old security guard who is also homeless, admitted to using a gun and other weapons — including a machete and handsaw — to murder men living on the streets in Lauderhill and Fort Lauderdale, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Florida police have been hunting for a suspect in the string of slayings since Oct. 20, when a pair of sleeping homeless men were shot at an abandoned gas station in Lauderhill, Interim Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said during a press conference Wednesday.
Larry Scott, 65, died on the scene while the second unnamed victim remains hospitalized in critical condition.
The following day, detectives learned of a similar murder in Fort Lauderdale that had been captured on video.
In the clip, Petgrave is reportedly seen speaking with 50-year-old John Jackson by the Dixie Food Store around 1 a.m. on Oct. 21. He was killed by a single gunshot to the head fired at close range.
Maglione added that detectives believe Petgrave fired an additional shot at someone else before he allegedly murdered Jackson.
Using a photo taken from the footage, an employee at a Lauderhill homeless center was able to identify Petgrave and told police where he ate and did laundry.
Authorities discovered the third murder victim on Oct. 27 around 10:30 a.m. The body of Derick Westley Tucker — who had been temporarily homeless and sleeping in a Public Storage unit in Fort Lauderdale — beside a bloodied nine-pound pipe vice, machete and handsaw, according to the Sentinel.
The message “4 STOP WAIT TIME” was written in blood on the floor next to Tucker’s body, according to the police report.
Authorities suspect Petgrave believed he had killed his fourth victim and was unaware one of his earlier shooting victims survived.
Detectives eventually found Petgrave driving a black Chevrolet pickup truck that had been stolen in Miami Gardens in September. While in custody, he confessed to taking the construction tools and killing Tucker, police told the Sentinel.
“This individual did kill three,” Maglione said during the Wednesday press conference. “So I guess by dictionary definition he would qualify as a serial killer.”
Authorities added they did not believe Petgrave was targeting homeless people but picked his victims because they “were just available at the time he was out.”
The suspect during his spree had been living in shelter he built on the corner of State Road 7 and Northwest Eighth place, where authorities found more than two dozen live rounds of 9 mm bullets.
Petgrave faces three counts of premeditated murder, committing or attempting to commit a felony that could cause death, armed burglary of a business and unarmed burglary of a vehicle.
He is being held without bail