Man Arrested in California Stabbing of French Train Hero

Don Thompson, Yahoo! News, November 4, 2015

A tip led police in California’s capital city to arrest a 28-year-old man Wednesday in the stabbing of a U.S. airman who was hailed as a hero for helping thwart a European terror attack.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone was knifed on Oct. 8 in a fight near a bar in Sacramento, shortly after nightclub patrons applauded the 23-year-old for his role in tackling a gunman with ties to radical Islam on a Paris-bound passenger train in August.

James Tran, who lives outside Sacramento, is considered the instigator in the brawl that led to the stabbing, police Chief Sam Somers Jr. said at a news conference.

James Tran

James Tran

Tran was charged with attempted homicide.

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Stone’s injuries were so severe that police initially thought he could die. {snip}

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Stone’s mother, Joyce Eskel, said Wednesday that her son was knifed four times, not three as doctors initially said. Doctors “had to saw his chest open” to repair lacerations to his heart and liver and a collapsed lung, Eskel said. One wound came within a half-inch of his spine, she said.

Spencer Stone

Spencer Stone

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Detectives moved in as Tran drove in south Sacramento County and he was arrested without incident. Tran has a previous felony arrest and is affiliated with a gang but that did not play a role in the fight, Somers said.

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Somers said Tran and his group did not know who Stone was until they saw news reports later.

Stone was with three women and another man when other clubgoers praised him at Badlands, a nightclub in the Midtown district.

Grainy surveillance video from outside a liquor store about an hour later shows a large man who appears to be Stone fighting a half-dozen people at an intersection.

The fight started as an argument after one of the groups videotaped the other, Somers said without elaborating.

The police chief would not confirm reports that Stone was helping a woman when the argument began but said Stone’s history shows that “if he feels that something is inappropriate or wrong, he will take action. I’ll leave it that way.”

The two parties separated before the fight escalated. During the melee, Tran circled behind Stone and stabbed him multiple times in the back, Somers said.

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[Editor’s Note: This story notes that “James Tran was born to Vietnamese-Chinese immigrants in New York.”]

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