A man is dead after being stabbed in the neck while his 5-year-old daughter sat on his lap as they were finishing a meal at a California restaurant.
Ventura Police Department said in a series of news releases that officers reported to Aloha Steakhouse in Ventura on Thursday evening after receiving multiple 911 calls about a stabbing at the eatery.
Police said a 35-year-old male victim had just finished eating with his daughter. “While sitting at the table, the suspect approached the victim and stabbed him in the neck,” according to a press release. “The daughter was sitting on the lap of the victim at the time of the incident, but was not injured.”
The victim — identified by the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office as Anthony Mele, according to the Ventura County Star — was transported to a local hospital for immediate surgery. He later died from his injuries.
Jamal Jackson, 49, was arrested at the scene, according to police. He was charged with murder and child endangerment.
Jackson’s bail was set at over $1 million and he is being held at Todd Road Jail, according to online court records. Information about his attorney was not immediately available. Jackson — who is homeless — is next due in court on April 27.
Police say Jackson and Mele did not know each other and suspect’s motive is under investigation.
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Police also said that Jackson was reported hours before the crime in the area of the restaurant for “yelling and being disruptive.” Officers in the area were responding to other calls, so Jackson was monitored via security cameras.
“The Command Center staff watched Jackson’s behavior for more than 20 minutes until Jackson walked away from the camera’s view,” authorities said. “During that time, Command Center staff determined Jackson did not appear to be disturbing or threatening and cancelled the call for service before patrol resources became available.”
Police are asking anyone who interacted with Jackson on Thursday night to contact Sgt. Matt Cain at 805-339-4488.
“The Ventura Police Department sends our sincere condolences to the Mele family and all those impacted by this tragic loss and horrific crime,” the department said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Mele’s wife and daughter.