EVERETT — The stabbing at the Alderwood mall in January created panic among those in the food court. A restaurant manager was bleeding on the ground after a confrontation with another man. A woman broke her arm in the stampede that followed.
“This is the type of incident in a public place that threatens a citizen’s security,” Snohomish County Superior Court Judge David Kurtz said last week.
Kurtz addressed the mall stabber a day after a man had opened fire in a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers in Las Vegas, killing 58 and injuring hundreds more.
At the Lynnwood mall, a dispute between two created a ripple effect that impacted anyone in the food court that day, Kurtz said.
The judge sentenced Philip Herrera to a month in jail, allowing him to serve his time under house arrest. Herrera, 38, had pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a felony, in connection with the Jan. 15 incident. He faced up to three months in jail.
Kurtz was told the case had been heavily negotiated by both sides. Herrera could have made a self-defense claim, his attorney Pete Mazzone said.
Herrera was at the food court and made a comment about a worker only wearing one glove while preparing a salad. The manager told Herrera to go somewhere else if he didn’t like the way the food was being made. Herrera, there with his wife and child, knocked a bunch of cups off the counter.
The manager jumped the counter, ran toward Herrera and punched the defendant in the back of the head. The manager put Herrera in a headlock and the men tumbled to the ground. Herrera ended up on top of the man, who was face down. He stabbed the manager with a pocketknife four times. A bystander pulled Herrera off of the victim.
Meanwhile a person in the crowd had yelled that someone had a gun, setting off a stampede. People hid in bathrooms and some stores were locked down. No gun was involved.
Herrera apologized to the man he stabbed and the other people at the mall, mentioning the woman who broke her arm in the panic. He told the judge he feared for his life and didn’t think he had any other option.
Police had asked Herrera if he thought stabbing someone was an appropriate response to being hit in the back of the head. He replied, “For all I know, he could be a member of ISIS.”
The victim sustained shallow stab wounds that didn’t damage any internal organs. He didn’t attend the hearing last week. The defendant was ordered not to have contact with the man for five years.
“I never wanted to hurt anyone,” Herrera told the judge. “I’m a peaceful person. I always have been and I always will be.”
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.