Suspect assaulted victim before fatal fight

Rudy Perez, Jr.

The assault that led to the death of a 77-year-old man in the Columbia VA hospital was the second altercation between the victim and the suspect that day, according to the probable cause statement.

Police said 33-year-old Rudy Perez, Jr., hit Robert Hill in the face and on the head around 3:20 p.m. on February 1. The two were separated, and hospital staff spoke with Perez before returning him to the common area.

Hill was treated for his injuries and then also returned to the common area.

Around 6:35 p.m., Perez allegedly began assaulting Hill again, this time forcing the 77-year-old to the floor and striking his head repeatedly with a closed fist.

An officer was able to force Perez away from Hill, who was restrained and escorted from the area.

Hill was transported to the University Hospital Emergency Room, where he died at about 10:30 p.m.

Police do not yet know a motive.