One of the men attacked and stabbed Thursday afternoon in downtown Kingston is in good spirits after an incident that could have turned out a lot worse.
Terry Stafford, an 85-year-old local retired real estate agent and grandfather, was leaving his condominium to go for a walk down Princess Street when a stranger suddenly jumped at him. He said he was initially trying to avoid the situation when the stranger came after him.
“He had a good-sized knife that got my attention. I wasn’t doing anything to annoy him, I thought,” Stafford said.
Stafford walked out of his building on Queen Street at about 1:40 p.m. and came across an altercation at the Bagot Street intersection. At that time, a 22-year-old man with a large knife was attacking another man, who ultimately died of his wounds. A video circulating on social media shows the suspect then turning on Stafford and grabbing him by the neck. He hauls Stafford to the ground, punches him three times and then stabs him with the knife in the cheek.
While the suspect is focused on Stafford, an unidentified woman goes to the aid of the first victim. The suspect notices this and, as he starts to go after her, a Kingston Police officer runs up to the scene and starts yelling at the suspect to drop the knife and to get on the ground.
The man still runs toward the woman as the officer follows with his firearm drawn and pointed. The video shows the officer following the suspect for a few steps northward, but then the suspect turns on the officer and appears to charge him. The officer then shoots the man in the leg. In the video, the suspect bends over slightly but remains standing, stumbling forward a few steps.
As a second officer arrives, the suspect walks back to a flowerbed and sits. In a news release from the Special Investigations Unit, they state that the man started to harm himself with the knife and that the second officer used his conductive energy weapon to stop him, but the suspect died at the scene.
Witnesses reported that the man stabbed himself in the jugular vein.
The violent incident is still under investigation by the Kingston Police and the SIU, which is a watchdog agency that investigates whenever a person is sexually assaulted, seriously injured or has died while interacting with police in Ontario.
On Friday morning, Stafford was in decent spirits, preparing to head into oral surgery.
The attack left him with fewer teeth and with several stitches in his mouth and across his face.
“He got a good punch in, though the punch was probably a good thing because he had a pretty good-sized knife but he didn’t get to use it too much,” Stafford said. “He just gave a couple of little jabs in the cheek.”
The whole incident is a blur for Stafford, who was transported to Kingston General Hospital for treatment. His daughter, Kate Stafford, said the staff at the hospital were awesome and he was discharged and back home at a little after 5 p.m.
Kate said her father called her himself from the emergency department at the hospital. She dropped everything, notified her brother and met Stafford at the hospital.
“They had a plastic surgeon there; they stitched him all up,” Kate said. “They did a CT scan, he doesn’t have a concussion, and he’s good. He’s strong. He seems fine right now.”
Kate said the family is going to keep an eye on Stafford. His son slept over Thursday night. She said the family is very upset about the video of the incident that has been circulating online. She said it was difficult for Stafford’s grandchildren to see it.
“He gave me a stab in the cheek and I’m really concerned because I’m not as beautiful as I was,” Stafford chuckled.
Kate said humour is how her father often deals with scary or stressful situations.
“He cracks jokes, that’s how he is. He’s been through a lot. This is just how he handles things,” Kate said. “He’s having a hard time getting the knife out of his head. He sees the knife a lot, but he’s OK. He’s going to be fine. …
“It’s surreal. You can’t really put it all together in your head that this actually happened. He’s a lucky man and we feel terrible about the other person.”
Kingston Police notified the family of the suspect’s first victim, a 40-year-old local man, of his death on Thursday night. The family told the police that they did not wish their loved one’s name to be released to the public without their permission — a request that the force, and the Whig-Standard, has respected.
The identity of the suspect has also not been officially released.
The SIU has asked that anyone with information about the incident call them at 1-800-787-8529. Those who have video of the altercation are asked to upload it to the SIU website, www.siu.on.ca.
Kingston Police have also asked that anyone with information call their major crimes unit at 613-549-4660.