The attack ended with five blasts from Miami Officer Jose Ramirezs gun.
Sgt. Williams, who was investigating the shooting, asked Poppo if he had provoked Eugene.
What could provoke an attack of that type? Poppo responded. I didnt curse at the guy or say anything mean or nasty.
No information ever surfaced to explain Eugenes bizarre behavior. Speculation that he was high on so-called bath salts was debunked by a medical examiners report, which showed that Eugene had only marijuana in his system.
He apparently didnt have a good day at the beach and he he was coming back, Poppo said. And I guess he took it out, took it out on me or something. I dont know.
Although Poppo sounded coherent and lucid, parts of his account show he may have been confused about some details. Its unlikely that Eugene had hitchhiked across the causeway, and the surveillance camera video captured by The Miami Herald showed the attacker was naked at the time of the incident. Even though he first told police Eugene was shirtless, Poppo later recalled a green shirt and shorts. In fact, he said, the victim and attacker wore similar clothes.
He said he believed Eugene was a dealer, a tidbit he said he knew perhaps by telepathy.
Poppo spent several weeks at Jackson Memorial Hospital being treated for his injuries. Doctors removed one of his eyes and the other was severely damaged. He had two puncture wounds in his chest, which doctors said may have been from the bullets fired from the officers gun.
Poppo also had a broken rib and infections on his face. He lost his eyebrows, nose, part of his forehead and right cheek.
When doctors spoke to the media in mid-June, Poppos brother, who lives in California, was acting as his health-care surrogate. Poppo subsequently took over responsibility for his own care and has declined to give interviews. A transcript of one of his three interviews with police shows he told detectives that he did not like how he was portrayed in the press and did not want to talk to the media.
About a month ago, he transferred out of the hospital to the South Dade facility, where a social worker helped him reconnect with his older sister, Antoinette.
It had been at least 30 years since they last talked.
I asked [the social worker] if he wants to talk to me, and she said, He talks about you all the time. I said, Really? Antoinette Poppo told The Miami Herald by phone from New York. He asked me how the family was. He wants to know if Im ever going to move to Florida. He said hed like to see me. I would love to see him, but I have Parkinsons.
Poppo told his sister he likes the place where hes living and that he gets a lot of mail, which is read to him.
They treat him very well, and the social worker said they like having him, she said.
Poppo told his sister hell be having more surgery, but wont be able to see again.
She and her brother dont talk about why he drifted away from the family or what hed been doing the past three decades. Nor, she said, does she ask about the attack.
He doesnt say, and I dont ask, she said. I dont want to push it.
In his interview with police, Poppo tired of discussing it after about 15 minutes. Saying he was exhausted, he wanted to wrap up. Asked if he had anything he wanted to add, he thanked Miami police for showing up when he began to scream to save his life.
If they didnt get there in a nick of time, I wouldve definitely be in worse shape, he said. Possibly Id be DOA.
Miami Herald staff writer Elinor Brecher contributed to this report.