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Bridgeport police: Suspect beat homeless man because he thought victim was gay

Bridgeport police are calling the recent beating death of a homeless man a hate crime.

Marissa Alter

Jan 18, 2023, 11:19 PM

Updated 522 days ago


Bridgeport police are calling the recent beating death of a homeless man a hate crime.
Elijah Humphrey, 32, of Bridgeport, was arraigned in Bridgeport Superior Court Wednesday on charges of first-degree manslaughter and first-degree intimidation based on bias. Humphrey is accused of assaulting Daniel Engeldrum, 49, because of what Humphrey presumed was Engeldrum’s sexual orientation.
“The suspect perceived that the victim had made a pass at him and as a result of that, attacked him,” said Capt. Kevin Gilleran.
On Jan. 11, police were called to an assault in front of 804 Fairfield Ave., an abandoned building where homeless people are known to stay. They found Engeldrum on the ground with a severe head injury. He was taken to St. Vincent’s Medical Center and died two days later. Police said Engeldrum had been homeless for a number of years but was previously from Monroe.
“Homicide detectives took over the investigation and quickly developed a suspect. As a result of their investigation, they subsequently arrested a suspect that lived in the area, that lived in the 900 block of Fairfield Avenue,” Gilleran explained.
According to Humphrey’s arrest warrant, cameras captured him allegedly punching the victim in the head, then throwing him off the elevated wheelchair ramp headfirst. Police said Humphrey confessed to the beating when they questioned him.
He told police he passed the victim on the street where "The victim looked him in the eyes and…made the sound 'mmm..mmm..mmm.'"
Humphrey said he kept walking home but began thinking about the encounter. According to his warrant, "Humphrey continued to explain that since the victim looked at him and made that sound, he assumed the victim was homosexual. Humphrey stated, 'Do something like that....He's ready to die....He's giving up his life.'"
Humphrey told police he went back out looking for the victim and when he found him, lost control. The warrant said, “Humphrey stated, ‘I chopped ‘em in his neck, and I beat ‘em up….I slammed ‘em, it's like rage man, it took over me, man….’”
Court records show Humphrey has a previous history of these incidents. In 2018, he was convicted of third-degree assault and second-degree intimidation based on bias for an incident in Stamford, where he yelled a homosexual slur during the attack. In that case, he served one year in prison.
During Humphrey’s arraignment, the prosecutor mentioned the prior case and called the new assault “vicious,” as he asked the judge to set a high bond.
Humphrey’s public defender pushed for a lower bond, saying her client is not a flight risk, has all his family in the area and recently completed probation successfully.
The judge called the allegations against Humphrey serious and set bond at $1 million. Humphrey is due back in court Jan. 31.
Police told News 12 Humphrey could have other potential victims out there. They ask anyone with additional information to contact the Bridgeport Police Tips Line at (203)-576-TIPS.

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