Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

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Updated 22 April 2018
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Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

  • The victim was dining with his family when the man stabbed him without warning
  • Police say suspect is a felon who had been convicted for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse since the 1990s

LOS ANGELES: A homeless man who randomly stabbed a patron in a crowded Southern California restaurant to death as he was holding his daughter was reported just a few hours earlier for disruptive behavior, but police ultimately determined he was not a threat, authorities said Saturday.
Jamal Jackson, 49, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 35-year-old Anthony Mele. He was being held in Ventura County jail on a $1.5 million bail. It was unclear if Jackson, who is also a convicted felon, had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Mele and his wife were eating dinner with their 5-year-old daughter Wednesday at Aloha Steakhouse in the seaside city of Ventura. The girl was sitting on her father’s lap when prosecutors say Jackson walked up and stabbed Mele in the neck.
Prosecutor Richard Simon said customers and a restaurant employee followed Jackson out of the restaurant, even though he still had the knife. They kept track of him until Ventura police arrived and arrested him.
Mele was taken to a hospital and died Thursday after being taken off life support.
“It’s horrible,” Simon said. “You don’t think you’re going to be killed when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your family and you didn’t do anything.”
Simon said the two men had not interacted before the attack.
“He was just sitting there with his daughter in his lap,” Simon said. “You’re not supposed to die that way.”
Mele’s loved ones started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a funeral and to support his wife and daughter.
Mele’s Facebook page was filled with photos of his daughter and said he was a manager at an AT&T store.
Police confirmed that a bystander reported a man — who turned out to be Jackson — for disruptive behavior several hours before the stabbing.
According to the bystander, a man was yelling on the promenade not far from the beachside restaurant about three hours before the attack.
Patrol officers were out on other calls so command center staff monitored the man via a pier security camera system for more than 20 minutes before deciding he didn’t seem to be a threat, police said.
Police are asking anyone who spoke with Jackson during that time to contact investigators in the city 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
Jackson also had half a dozen contacts with police in Ventura since the beginning of the year, including an arrest after a physical fight at a park, said Commander Tom Higgins.
He was also stopped on March 31 after a passer-by reported he was brandishing a knife. Police searched his bag and found a knife but there was no victim so no charge was filed, Higgins said.
Jackson has a lengthy rap sheet including charges in San Bernardino County, Higgins said, as well as convictions for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse dating back to the 1990s.
The killing prompted the Ventura City Council to increase police patrols in the area and add staff members to monitor security cameras, among other measures.
“We are extremely disheartened and infuriated by this criminal attack,” Mayor Neal Andrews said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses.”
If convicted, Jackson faces up to 55 years in prison.


Rohingya ‘rights at risk’ after Myanmar ID move

The sun rises as thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar a day before wait by the road where they spent the night between refugee camps, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, in this October 10, 2017 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 55 min 10 sec ago
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Rohingya ‘rights at risk’ after Myanmar ID move

  • Whatever the language or term is, the Myanmar government is the ultimate authority to determine the citizenship issue of the Rohingyas
  • If Bangladesh opposes it strongly, then Myanmar may take the chance to disown the statement by saying that it was not at all official

DHAKA: Bangladesh has yet to decide whether it will replace its official description of Rohingya refugees — a move some claim will limit the Rohingyas’ rights as Myanmar citizens.
A Bangladesh Foreign Ministry spokesman told Arab News a decision over the replacement of the term “forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals” with “displaced persons from Rakhine state” was still under consideration.
“During last week’s discussion with the Bangladesh delegation, the Myanmar authority brought this up. We have listened to their points in this regard,” Delwar Hossain, director-general of the Foreign Ministry, said.
“Discussion is continuing among the ministry’s policy-makers, but the decision has yet to be taken,” he said.
Another Bangladeshi official present at the meeting at Nay Pe Daw said that Bangladesh has not given any consent to the proposal from Myanmar regarding the replacement of the term.
“I have not received any directive over the issue,” said Abul Kalam, of the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), the main coordinating body looking after the Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar.
However, experts believe that the replacement of the term “forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals” with “displaced persons from Rakhine state” will limit the Rohingyas’ ability to secure rights as Myanmar citizens.
“Whatever the language or term is, the Myanmar government is the ultimate authority to determine the citizenship issue of the Rohingyas. We want the (Rohingyas) to live in Rakhine with honor and dignity,” said Humayun Kabir, former Bangladesh ambassador to the US.
“We want to see developments on the ground for the repatriation of the refugees, and that is the prime concern at the moment.”
Independent migration expert Asif Munir said that Myanmar posted the statement on its state counsellor’s Facebook page, which is not an official channel.
He described the Myanmar approach as “very provocative.”
“Although Bangladesh authorities have not yet officially agreed with the Myanmar proposal, they (Myanmar) have issued a statement through an informal channel to see the response of the Bangladeshis. If Bangladesh opposes it strongly, then Myanmar may take the chance to disown the statement by saying that it was not at all official,” Munir said.
“This proposal will hamper the Rohingyas’ identity and citizenship of Myanmar.”