Norman Dingley Jr. watched as a man on a crack-cocaine binge slashed another man with a large knife, locked himself in his room and as police slapped on handcuffs begged to die.
The violent attack two years ago erupted just days after Dingley arrived at Briarwood Manor, a cramped assisted-living facility in Broward County that specializes in caring for people with mental illness.
It would be the first in a string of fights, drug deals and mental breakdowns that took place while Dingley was living in the troubled home, which has been hit with the highest amount of fines of any facility in Florida.
The beige, stuccoed ALF in the heart of Lauderhill could have been closed at least twice by the state since 2006, but has managed to keep its doors open even after not paying thousands of dollars in penalties for years.
But for Dingley, a Palatka native diagnosed with schizophrenia, theres nowhere else to go: Hes hundreds of miles from home, and says he doesnt have the ability to find a new place to live. I cant take care of myself, he said.
His own move to Briarwood began just days after fire inspectors in his hometown shut down the facility where he and his brother Robert were living.
The portly man said he had a choice: jump in a van for a ride to a new home across the state or survive on the streets. So he and his brother stuffed their clothes in plastic bags and boarded a van for the 280-mile ride to South Florida.
The man behind the move was Andy Subachan, who owned both the Palatka home and the one where the Dingley brothers were going. Subachan did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.
In the first six months after Dingley checked into Briarwood, police were called to the home more than 100 times for emergencies, including assaults and fights, according to 911 records.
The facility one of nearly a dozen ALFs in a blighted neighborhood known as Cannon Point was a stark contrast to Dingleys former home in the countryside of Putnam County, he said.
When I first got here, all theyd ever do was scream and yell and drink beer, he said of his fellow residents.
Just weeks after arriving, Dingley said, he watched as police stormed the home to investigate a stabbing down the hall from his room after midnight on July 5, 2009. While officers were struggling to subdue Stephen King, the 43-year-old resident began slamming his head against the floor, which was covered in shattered glass, screaming at officers to kill him, according to police reports.
Residents told police the lone caretaker was asleep in the office during the stabbing, but when officers found the employee, she said she did not know what was happening due to the fact that she was looking for something in the office, a police report states.
State regulators launched an investigation after the attack, finding the home had failed to watch over its residents. In addition, agents said two female residents had been sexually abused by another resident.
Residents have been routinely subjected to resident-on-resident abuse both emotional and physical, the Agency for Health Care Administration concluded.
Months later, Dingley said he saw a female resident storm through the facility swinging a butcher knife. Im scared of knives myself. Ive been cut with them, he said. I couldnt even look out the curtains.