Cops: Homeless Stranger Fatally Stabbed Diner

Man was attacked with daughter on lap
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2018 1:11 AM CDT

(Newser) – A man having dinner with his 5-year-old daughter on his lap was fatally stabbed in what appears to have been a random, unprovoked attack, police in California say. Homeless man Jamal Jackson, 49, was arrested and charged with premeditated first-degree murder after the attack on 35-year-old Anthony Mele at a seaside restaurant in Ventura, the Washington Post reports. Mele, who died after being taken off life support Thursday, was dining with his wife and daughter at the Aloha Steakhouse when Jackson walked up to the table and stabbed him in the neck, police say. The girl wasn't harmed. Jackson, a convicted felon, was arrested after customers and restaurant employees chased him to the beach.

Police say a man later identified as Jackson was reported for yelling and being disruptive on the promenade near the restaurant about three hours before the attack, the Los Angeles Times reports. Officers were out on other calls, so command center staff monitored Jackson through security cameras for around 20 minutes before deciding he wasn't a threat, according to police. Jackson had at least six contacts with police earlier this year, including an arrest for fighting. Mele's father says he hopes his son's death will change how Ventura deals with its homeless population, the Ventura County Star reports. "We need to help the homeless. We need to help the mentally ill," he says. "We need to feel free to walk upon the streets, to go out to dinner, and not be assaulted or stabbed or killed." (Read more California stories.)

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