An 82-year-old COVID-19 patient was beaten to death at the Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California last week by a fellow patient who had become irritated with his praying, authorities say. The victim, an elderly Latino man, was sharing a room with the suspect, a fellow coronavirus patient identified as Jesse Martinez, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The unidentified victim, who was Catholic, began to pray last Thursday morning and was then set upon by 37-year-old Martinez, who had become enraged, police said. Martinez allegedly picked up an oxygen tank and attacked the older man with it. The man died from his injuries on Friday.
Martinez was arrested on murder charges and the attack is also being categorized as religious discrimination and elder abuse. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Monday. The two men did not know each other prior to being in the hospital room together. “These families were already experiencing a hardship and now this—it’s senseless,” Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a statement. California, which has seen a huge surge in cases in recent weeks and near-full ICUs, reported 39,069 new cases on Wednesday and 361 deaths.