"It was pretty bizarre," said neighbor Ramon Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was one of the first to discover 34-year-old Angelo Mendoza on April 28 after police said Mendoza bit an eyeball out of his 4-year-old son's face and ate it.
"The guy was crazy. Real bug-eyed; he had to be on drugs," said Rodriguez.
Court documents said neighbors checked on Mendoza's son, Angelo Jr., after they noticed the father acting nervously and fleeing from his east Bakersfield apartment in his wheelchair. Inside, they found little Angelo naked and bleeding. Police said the boy had numerous bites to his hands and his eyes were swollen shut. Doctors said the boy's left eye and muscle were completely missing. His other eye was mutilated beyond repair. The boy told them, "My daddy ate my eyes out." Rodriguez said meanwhile Mendoza approached him at a neighbor's vacant house down the street.
Rodriguez said the boy's father wheeled himself into the front yard and asked Rodriguez to play with him and a pet dog. He was wearing boxers and a sweater. When Rodriguez refused, Mendoza got off his wheelchair and dragged himself into a back yard, where he found an ax.
By then Mendoza had stripped naked. He chained himself to a tree in the back yard and began hacking at his leg with a pickax while yelling incoherently.
"He told me to look into the sun and pray with him. I was kinda scared for a minute," said Rodriguez.
Then Rodriguez jumped on Mendoza and wrestled the ax away.
"As soon as I grabbed the ax he tried to bite me, and I had to hold him down with my knee. There was dry blood around his mouth. I don't know if it was his own, but I'm pretty sure it was his son's now that I hear the story," said Rodriguez.
The police report said Mendoza appeared to be under the influence of PCP. Rodriguez said had he known about little Angelo, the outcome would have been different.
"I would've just let him cut his leg off. What happened to his son is not right. I would've left him alone," said Rodriguez.
Mendoza was arrested on charges of torture, aggravated mayhem, and cruelty to a child. The toddler is now in the custody of Child Protective Services. Mendoza is due in court May 20. His bail is set at $1 million.
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