Elderly couple attacked by homeless man outside SoCal McDonald's, family says

An elderly couple from East Los Angeles was violently attacked by a homeless man at a McDonald’s drive-thru, leading to severe injuries and critical health complications for the wife, according to family members.

The incident occurred on March 9, 2024, around 9:30 a.m. at 245 N Soto Street.

Jose Juan Rangel Hernandez, 74, and Maria Guadalupe Vargas Luna, 58, were in their car when the attacker approached. 

Hernandez's daughter, Veronica Rangel, described the horrifying incident: "We're here because there was no justice served for my father. He was attacked by a homeless man on March 9th while he was in the drive-thru McDonald's. The man just walked up to my father and started punching him."

Hernandez exited the vehicle to defend himself but was overpowered. The assailant knocked him to the ground and continued to beat him. Vargas Luna, who is diabetic and partially blind, exited the car to help her husband. 

"She reached out to feel because she couldn't really see that well. The homeless man bumped her with his body. She fell back and hit her head," said Veronica.

Vargas Luna suffered a heart attack en route to the hospital but was revived by paramedics. Despite initial stabilization, she faced further complications due to the breathing tube, requiring a feeding tube, and was sent home. 

Maria Guadalupe Vargas Luna (Credit: GoFundMe)

"My father struggled to feed her. He struggled to maintain her healthy, but she continued to deteriorate," Veronica explained. A week later, Vargas Luna had another heart attack. By the time paramedics arrived, she had been too long without oxygen. She now has no brain activity, and doctors have recommended withdrawing life support.

Hernandez sustained bruises, cuts, and a concussion from the attack. The attacker, who was charged with a misdemeanor, has since been released on his own recognizance. 

Jose Juan Rangel Hernandez (Provided)

Veronica revealed that the attacker failed to appear in court and is now free: "The homeless person was only charged with a misdemeanor and released on his own recognizance. He did not show up to court, so now he's free."

Veronica is pleading for justice, urging the district attorney to review the case and reconsider the charges. "To the district attorney, I would like you to please review that video with detail. All of this is happening because of him. She's dead because of him. My father is alone. There has to be justice," she said. Veronica also asked the district attorney to consider elder abuse charges due to her father's age, but was told it was too difficult to pursue.

The family is seeking justice for this tragic incident, highlighting the severe consequences and lasting impact on their lives. They are calling for support and intervention to ensure that the attacker faces appropriate legal repercussions for his actions.

For more information or to offer assistance, please contact Detective Sergeant Jesus Chavez at jchavez@cityofporthueneme.org or 805-986-6615. Anonymous tips can also be submitted to Ventura County Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477 or online at www.venturacountycrimestoppers.org.

The family created a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses.