The woman’s voice is agitated and urgent. She believes she’s just seen someone about to die.
“It’s a naked man beating another man, beating him, on the MacArthur Causeway, like toward the Miami Herald.... He’s gonna kill that man, I promise you, ok?’’
The woman is a Miami-Dade bus driver, one of three people who called police on May 26.
What two of them saw was Rudy Eugene, 31, savaging Ronald Poppo, 65. By the time police arrived, Eugene had chewed off Poppo’s face.
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The Miami Police Department released the 911 tapes of the three calls on Friday, but it’s unclear in what order or at what time they were received.
In addition to the bus driver, another man called to report what they thought was a fight.
In the third call, a man sounds nonchalant.
“Hi, how ya doing? I’m just reporting a naked man in front of the Miami Herald building on the highway.’’
The dispatcher asks if the naked man is on a pole.
“He’s next to a pole, actually,’’ the man says. “He was taking off his clothes and throwing them into traffic. He’s a black male, curly hair, Rastafarian hair, goatee. You can’t miss him. He’s naked.’’
The dispatcher tries to narrow down the location: “What is that, 836?’’
Man: “But he’s on the sidewalk next to the expressway. He definitely is on the side of the Miami Herald building. You could send somebody over there. Yup — there he is.’’
A younger-sounding man also called in to report that “in the bike lane sort of thing, two bums, they were goin’ at it, taking up the whole lane. I think they were fighting.’’
The caller says he’s at Northeast 13th Street and North Bayshore Drive off the causeway ramp, and that the men are “clearly visible.’’
The dispatcher asks for his phone number, which he reluctantly gives after saying he’s “leaving the area.’’ He describes the men as “black or Hispanic or just very tan.”
When the dispatcher asks for his name, he says: “Mike.’’
“They almost knocked over an old lady who was riding by,’’ he tells the dispatcher. “I thought you should know.’’
Reached at home on Friday evening, “Mike’’ said he made his call at 2:07 p.m. That would have been about five minutes before police showed up.
Mike declined to give his last name. He said he saw no blood when he passed by the scene, and “did not get a good look’’ at what the two men were doing.
“Honestly,’’ he said, “I thought they were having sex.’’
On the tapes, only the bus driver, who would have had a higher vantage point than a conventional motorist, seems alarmed.
When the dispatcher asks if she has an emergency, she says, “Yes, I do. Listen, there is a naked man on the MacArthur Causeway, at the end of the causeway coming toward Biscayne. He is beating another man to a pulp, like on top of the man, beating him. He is bleeding.’’
She tells the dispatcher: “I’m a bus driver. I passed by and saw what was happening. It’s a naked man beating another man, beating him, on the McArthur toward the Miami Herald at the end of the causeway. He’s gonna kill that man, I promise you.’’
In surveillance footage shot from the Herald, three buses pass by during the 18-minute attack.
The first rolls by slowly, just as Eugene appears to be standing over Poppo, stripping him. The bus passes at about 2 p.m., some 13 minutes before the first police officer arrived on the scene. This bus also pauses on the causeway ramp several yards before the traffic light at North Bayshore.
A second bus passes more than six minutes later. This bus does not appear to slow down.
About a minute later, a third bus, which appears to be a tour-type bus, passes by.
Poppo survived the attack, but police shot and killed Eugene, who refused an order to stop his assault, and, with flesh in his mouth, growled at police.
Poppo, who’d been homeless for decades, remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.