Stabbing Suspect Is ‘Lost Boys’ Refugee

Elizabeth Zavala, Star-Telegram (Fort Worth), July 28, 2009

A man shot by police Monday after they said he repeatedly stabbed a UPS driver on her delivery route was one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” refugees who came to Fort Worth this decade, a minister said Tuesday.

Police identified the suspect as James Panchol, 32. Panchol was in critical condition Tuesday and was scheduled for surgery at John Peter Smith Hospital, said Sgt. Pedro Criado, a police spokesman.

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Wichieng Wetnyangran, associate pastor of African Immigrant Ministries at Peace Lutheran Church in Hurst, said Panchol was part of the group of about 40 Lost Boys who came to Tarrant County in 2001. More than 4 million refugees came to the United States to escape years of civil war and famine in their country.

“It’s absolutely a shock,” Wetnyangran said of reports that Panchol is a suspect in the stabbing. “That was a part of the life they ran away from. They were hoping their lives would change.”

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According to Texas Department of Public Safety records, Panchol pleaded guilty in Tarrant County in 2002 to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

During Monday’s incident, officers were called about 12:30 p.m. to a reported stabbing at the Bent Tree apartments on Randall Way in west Fort Worth. Witnesses told police that the man approached the UPS driver and repeatedly stabbed her in the back, according to reports.

The driver apparently broke free and ran, police and witnesses said. The man was chasing the woman when police arrived. He was ordered twice by officers to drop the knife and refused each time, police said. When one of the officers fired a Taser at the man, he charged her, police said, and the other officer shot the suspect with his weapon.

“They told me the Taser did work, but the suspect pulled the probes out of his body,” Criado said. The officer who deployed the Taser was treated for minor injuries and is on paid administrative leave.

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