Two men have been arrested in connection with the 2014 beating death of a disabled homeless man who was attacked as he slept in an alleyway in San Francisco's Financial District, police said Monday.
After investigating the homicide for more than a year, detectives were able to identify Idaho resident Joseph Stull, 21, as a suspect. Stull was arrested on Sept. 22, while he was already serving time for an unrelated crime in a Kootenai County, Idaho jail, according to police.
Then on Oct. 25, officers identified Stockton resident David Peters, 21, as the second suspect connected to the fatal attack.
Residents were relieved Monday night to hear the suspects have been caught.
Walt Schorno has seen his share of rough characters living in front of his men's store The Hound. He said 67-year-old Tai Lam was different.
"He was just sitting there, never begging, just sitting with one leg," Schorno said.
Schorno recalled the night police say three men beat the homless man to death in November 2014. Lam was sleeping in front of his store.
"I was just hoping and hoping that they’d catch them," Schorno said. "They were having fun killing a person."
Stull and Peters were booked into San Francisco County Jail on Friday on suspicion of murder, robbery, elder abuse and mayhem. They remain in custody on $5 million bail according to jail records.
Stull and Peters are accused of attacking Lam on Nov. 23, 2014, along with an unidentified third person. The trio allegedly attacked Lam twice between 11 p.m. and midnight in the 100 block of Sutter Street, as Lam slept on the ground in a sleeping bag, police said.
A surveillance camera allegedly captured Stull, Peters and an unidentified third person, as they smoked a cigarette on the steps to Crocker Galleria near Montgomery and Post streets, shortly before the assaults. The attack itself was also caught on camera.
Current police Chief Toney Chaplin, who was a lieutenant at the time, said back in 2014 that Lam was a defenseless senior citizen" with disabilities, who weighed less than 100 pounds and stood about 5 feet, 5 inches tall.
Chaplin said there was no indication that Lam provoked the three suspects and it appears Lam was sleeping when they initially approached him.
Chaplin also said the brutal and savage attack "went on for quite a while" and that Lam's body wasn't discovered until about 7 a.m. the next day.
"He was unable to defend himself. He died alone after suffering these horrendous attacks," Chaplin said at the time.
Sam Dodge, director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said the arrests also provide justice for Lam.
"The police department from day one was committed to this," Dodge said. "It didn't matter that he was homeless; this was someone's son, someone's family, someone unjustly killed at the hands of others."
Both Stull and Peters will be arraigned on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Department 11, according to San Francisco Superior Court records.