TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Friends said David Gotshall is a homeless veteran who struggled for years to find stability in his life, forced from one homeless camp to another.
Our news partners at Florida Today say the 52-year-old is fighting for his life after Titusville police said he was assaulted in his sleep Friday morning by a hammer-wielding transient.
"(Gotshall) was attacked while he was sleeping, beaten, kicked and attacked with a hammer. He was badly hurt and he's in critical condition," said Gary Boyer, a spokesman for the Titusville Police Department. "He is one of our local transients and we are familiar with him."
Gotshall was airlifted to Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center in critical condition. He lost an eye and suffered numerous fractures to his face, head and back as he was repeatedly beaten, police report.
Police arrested John Paul Angelillo, 34, and charged him with attempted first-degree murder in connection with the attack. He was questioned by police and later booked into the Brevard County Jail Complex.
"The two had had verbal altercations in the past," Boyer said, adding that the motive of the crime wasn't yet known.
Gotshall was found lying behind a Titusville business about 6:40 a.m. Friday in the 3100 block of Garden Street.
Brevard County sheriff's agents Ernest Cathy and Mike Traylor had been patrolling Garden Street when they saw a man with a hammer in his hand. They pulled into the parking lot of the abandoned business and saw a second man lying on the ground, sheriff's officials said.
The agents provided medical care to Gotshall while calling for paramedics from the Titusville Fire Department. Sheriff's officials said the agents also ordered the suspect to drop the bloody hammer and detained him until Titusville police arrived.
"By being aggressive and proactive, agents Cathy and Traylor were able to prevent a murder, save a victim's life and put a very dangerous criminal behind bars for what will hopefully be a very, very long time," Sheriff Jack Parker said in a statement. "We are extremely proud of them."
Gotshall, who was apparently sleeping behind the business when he was assaulted, had been searching for another place to stay a week after city workers dismantled his previous camp, said George Taylor, president of the Titusville-based National Veterans Homeless Support. Taylor said Gotshall, who served in Desert Storm, worked with the group to repair wheelchairs.
"He had some issues but we were supporting him. About eight or nine months ago, the police and the city crews cleared out his camp off Tropic Street. They took a lot of his tools and threw them away. He was really just trying to work. He was really trying to have a better life," Taylor said, adding that the suspect, Angelillo was not a veteran.
Gotshall had also worked as a mechanic at the Exxon Station on Garden Street.
"He was just wandering around," Taylor said. "It's really sad."
Copyright 2012 by ClickOrlando.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.