LYNNWOOD — A would-be customer’s rude behavior at a food court cafe Jan. 15, and his decision to reach for the knife in his pocket, have led to a felony assault charge for the Auburn man.
Philip L. Herrera, 38, stabbed the manager of an Alderwood mall cafe during a fight that came after he deliberately knocked over a stack of paper cups when told to leave, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf said in court documents filed Monday.
Herrera reportedly didn’t like how a cafe worker was preparing a salad. When he objected, the manager told him he could go eat somewhere else.
“The defendant at first appeared to take that advice and began to walk away,” Alsdorf said in Snohomish County Superior Court papers. “However, before leaving the counter he flipped over a stack of a few dozen paper cups, toppling them off the counter and into the work area at the victim’s feet.”
The manager, 29, hopped the counter and reportedly punched Herrera from behind. The two men, both described as being 6 foot 3 and more than 200 pounds, then grappled and went to the ground.
Herrera reportedly wound up on top. He produced a knife and quickly stabbed the restaurant worker four times in the back, Alsdorf wrote.
“Meanwhile, the ruckus in the middle of the food court at the mall had caused a stampede of panicked shoppers trying to avoid the confrontation,” the prosecutor wrote. “The stampede was apparently exacerbated when someone in the crowd incorrectly yelled that someone had a gun. At least one shopper was injured in the commotion of shoppers trying to flee to safety.”
A bystander restrained Herrera and the other man broke free. The defendant then voluntarily gave up his knife and “waited calmly for police to arrive,” the prosecutor said.
The man who was wounded sought medical attention for four shallow stab wounds.
Herrera told police that he felt the stabbing was justified because he “didn’t know the guy” or whether he had connections to violent groups. Among those he reportedly listed were the Black Panthers, ISIS and the Ku Klux Klan.
“If someone attacks from behind, all bets are off,” the defendant reportedly told police.
Alsdorf charged Herrera with third-degree assault.
“The case has been the subject of extensive pre-charging negotiations between the state and the defendant’s attorney, with full consideration of the potential viability of a claim of self-defense,” Alsdorf wrote.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.