A COVID-19 patient at a California hospital allegedly struck and killed his roommate with an oxygen tank because he was “upset when the victim started to pray,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday.
Jesse Martinez, 37, has been arrested on suspicion of a hate crime murder and elder abuse, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. The victim, an 82-year-old Hispanic man, was sharing a two-person room with Martinez at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster in northern Los Angeles County.
The men, who didn’t know each other, were both receiving treatment for COVID-19, according to the department.
“The suspect became upset when the victim started to pray. He then struck the victim with an oxygen tank,” authorities said in the release. The victim died from his injuries the next day.
California faces ‘darkest days’:COVID-19 cases surge, pushing hospital staff to the breaking point
Martinez is set to appear in court Dec. 28, authorities said, and his bail has been set at $1 million.
Los Angeles County has emerged as a hotbed of COVID-19 infections. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 145 deaths from COVID-19, the highest single-day number since the beginning of the pandemic.
The surge has forced hospitals to begin making plans for the increasing possibility of rationing care to critically ill patients because of personnel and equipment limitations.
Los Angeles County announced a new stay-at-home order earlier this month, but a new representative survey out of the University of Southern California’s Center for Social and Economic Research found that 30% of residents are defying the order.
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday night that California had become the first state to surpass 2 million coronavirus cases, citing a county-by-county tally. During a Monday press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state had recorded 525,000 cases in the previous two weeks.