A man accused of poisoning eight homeless people in Huntington Beach and recording them having seizure-like symptoms is facing felony charges, prosecutors said Thursday.
William Robert Cable of San Andreas allegedly gave the victims food laced with oleoresin capsicum, the same highly potent main ingredient found in pepper spray beginning in mid-May. But, according to prosecutors, Cable placed the oleoresin capsicum inside food so the victims were actually ingesting it. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office described it as “twice as strong as the pepper spray used by police.”
Authorities believe there could be other victims and possible suspects involved.
Upon eating the tainted food, the victims struggled to breathe, vomited and suffered “intense mouth and stomach pain” and “seizure-like symptoms,” according to a DA’s office news release. Some had to be hospitalized as a result.
“They were exploited and poisoned as part of a twisted form of entertainment, and their pain was recorded so that it could be relived by their attacker over and over again,” DA Todd Spitzer said in the release.
It is unclear if the videos were posted somewhere online or viewed in any other way.
Prosecutors are not releasing that information and other details since they are asking possible victims and other suspects to come forward and tell their stories, according to Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office. Edds said releasing certain information could “infect” the ongoing investigation.
The poisonings first came to the attention of the city’s fire department, which responded to the incidents and reported them to Huntington Beach police, Edds said. Police arrested Cable on May 22.
According to prosecutors, some victims were told it was part of a “spicy food challenge” while others were not and were completely unaware the food had been tampered with. Prosecutors said the victims were enticed with food, and sometimes, beer.
“The cruel nature of these crimes shocks the conscience of our community,” Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said in the DA’s office statement.
At least one of the victims was an elderly person, prosecutors said, and Cable is accused of involving a minor in the crimes.
The charges against him include eight felony counts of poisoning, one felony count of inflicting injury on an elderly person, eight misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and an infraction for driving while intoxicated.
The DA’s office said Cable faces up to 19 years and three months if convicted of all charges. He is being held at O.C. Jail on $500,000 bail.