Police say an 82-year-old man was beaten to death with an oxygen tank last week by his roommate inside Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California, after he started praying.
According to a Wednesday report from the Los Angeles Times, Lancaster’s mayor, Republican R. Rex Parris, said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of the incident.
Charged with a hate crime
A press release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department revealed that “[t]he suspect became upset when the victim started to pray.”
“He then struck the victim with an oxygen tank,” police said, according to Breitbart. The victim died from his injuries the next day, on Dec. 18, at 10:20 a.m.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the suspect in the assault, 37-year-old Jesse Martinez, “was charged with murder, with an enhancement for elder abuse and religion-motivated hate crime.”
The department set Martinez’s bail at $1 million, and his next court date will be Dec. 28, police said.
Both of the men were reportedly being treated for the coronavirus at the time of their hospitalizations.
Coronavirus cases on the rise
Hospitals in California have been filling up with coronavirus patients since October, with new cases spiking in the state in recent months. According to Fox News, California eclipsed 2 million COVID-19 cases last week, the first state in the U.S. to do so.
The Golden State is third, following New York and Texas, in the number of deaths from the disease.
Upwards of 24,200 deaths have been attributed to the virus in the state of nearly 40 million, according to a Worldometer tracker, and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has put heavy restrictions on much of the state, including in Los Angeles County, where this alleged murder took place.
It’s unclear whether these lockdowns have been effective, however — and as time passes, more and more skeptics are coming out of the woodwork.
In the meantime, the federal government is racing against the clock to distribute two new vaccines that were recently authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to combat the coronavirus. As of Saturday, reports indicated that at least two million doses of the vaccines had been administered to Americans nationwide.