Police: Altoona stabbing random
A stabbing in downtown Altoona on Tuesday afternoon that sent a man to the hospital in critical condition was random, police said Wednesday.
Shawn Patrick Barnes, 42,was taken into custody Tuesday night and charged with attempted homicide and related charges. Police surrounded his house at 1813 14th Ave., following a tip by neighbors that Barnes matched the description of a black male who randomly stabbed a man in broad daylight on the 1500 block of 13th Avenue — just a block from the Altoona Police Department.
According to Altoona police, Barnes, who was arrested without incident after walking out of his house as officers set up a perimeter, had blood on his cargo shorts. A bloody knife with a 4-inch blade was found in a second-floor bedroom of the home.
The stabbing happened about 4 p.m. as a man and a woman who were walking on the 1500 block of 13th Avenue approached Barnes as he walked in the opposite direction. The woman told police after the stabbing that Barnes was carrying a bag in his left hand and giving “dirty looks” to the man. As Barnes walked by, he “swung his right hand and struck” the man. she said.
At first, the woman thought the man had been punched, but soon realized the man had been stabbed in the neck, she told investigators.
Altoona police Sgt. Matthew Plummer credited an Altoona Fire Department crew that happened to be driving by as they returned to their nearby station with saving the man’s life. Plummer noted the firefighters were able to immediately provide medical attention to the stabbing victim that likely saved his life.
Altoona Fire Department Chief Tim Hileman said the crew saw what had happened and an EMT onboard sprung into action. Hileman said the department was told by doctors who treated the man that had he not been treated so quickly, the man wouldn’t have lived.
“Our guys were definitely at the right place at the right time,” Hileman said, adding that they also had the right training and were able to put that to use when it counted.
Plummer said Wednesday the stabbing appears to have been a random incident, and he credited the awareness of witnesses who saw a news report about the stabbing very soon after it occurred with Barnes’ quick capture.
Two witnesses told police that the description of the stabber matched that of Barnes and “also said they believed Barnes might be the actor based on his recent behavior and proximity to the crime scene,” police wrote in the charges. The witnesses said, “Barnes has been walking around the neighborhood recently and engaging in confrontations with other residents of the neighborhood,” police added.
After Barnes was detained after walking out of the back door of his house, which is a couple of blocks from the scene of the stabbing, he allegedly tried to slip out of his handcuffs. Barnes almost pulled his left hand free, police indicated.
Along with the blood on his shorts, Barnes was also wearing a gray T-shirt as described by the woman who saw the stabbing.
At the Altoona Police Department, Barnes allegedly admitted he was walking around the neighborhood and also claimed he had been punched, although police pointed out in the charges that Barnes was unable to say who struck him.
Barnes also said he had a backpack with him and inside it was a knife he had made in school.
The knife with a 4-inch blade was found on a dresser in an upstairs bedroom of the home, and police described it as a silver-colored folding knife with blood on both sides of the blade. Barnes’ identification and mail with his name on it were also found in the bedroom.
Police noted that video surveillance footage from a business near the scene showed the stabbing and that it corroborated what the woman had told investigators.
Barnes was booked on felony counts of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and escape along with misdemeanor charges of recklessly endangering another person and possessing an instrument of crime. Magisterial District Judge Paula Aigner set bail for Barnes at $500,000 cash at his arraignment Wednesday morning, and he remains in Blair County Prison with a preliminary hearing at Central Court scheduled for Aug. 28.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.