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Police believe homeless man killed popular veterinarian during burglary

For many Rolando residents, it’s their worst fears confirmed. They say several of the homeless people have become increasingly more aggressive.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Police Department has confirmed the man accused of killing a popular veterinarian in the Rolando area earlier this month lived on the streets. 

For many Rolando residents, it’s their worst fears confirmed. For months, neighbors have been documenting the growing problem and say several of the homeless people have become increasingly aggressive.

Dr. Clark Kelly was killed inside his El Cajon Boulevard veterinary clinic on June 15. According to police, the 88-year-old veterinarian walked in a burglar who physically attacked him, causing a serious head injury. Kelly later died at a hospital.

Police arrested 37-year-old Patrick O’Brien and charged him with murder. 

CBS 8 took a closer look at O’Brien’s background and discovered he’s been arrested multiple times. O'Brien was arrested here in San Diego County and in Northern California. In fact, unrelated criminal charges were filed against him just a week before Dr. Kelly’s murder.

“We are tired of it,” said Jennifer Spencer. “We are really tired of it.” 

Spencer said her tenants, who lived just a few blocks from the murder scene, moved out after nine years because of their growing concern with the area’s safety. 

“Homeless people coming in and harassing them. So they moved,” said Spencer. She said her tenant called the police for one guy who passed out in the middle of the road, but that didn't go so well. 

“The police came out. They were angry with him for calling them out for a drunk person falling in the middle of the street,” she said. “What do you want them to do... wait till they get murdered and then you call them out? I mean, that's ridiculous,” said Spencer.

Neighbors have also sent countless pictures to the city through the Get It Done app and emailed their city councilmember, but they said that also goes nowhere. “Oh, we're passing it on to someone else and then they'll get in touch with you,” Spencer said of her efforts. “Ya, never happens. It's passing the buck.”

The area's elected representative is Council President Sean Elo-Rivera. We contacted his office and they sent us a statement sending their condolences to Dr. Kelly's family and friends. 

They also acknowledged that the homeless problem there has gotten worse, but added that last month they held an outreach with several agencies. "During that outreach, 125 individuals along El Cajon Blvd were contacted and 41 people were provided healthcare, shelter, housing referrals and transport to hospital," the statement read.

But people in the area say there's never any follow-up to these outreach events. They hope this time is different. “Help us clean up the streets,” Spencer said in a plea on camera hoping Elo-Rivera would hear it. “Help us protect our neighbors here in Rolando. It's what your job is. If you can't do your job, there's always an election to take care of that.”

WATCH RELATED: Man accused of murdering Rolando veterinarian pleads not guilty.


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