SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A man charged with stabbing two women of Asian descent at a San Francisco bus stop last week pleaded not guilty Monday.
A handcuffed Patrick Thompson, 54, was silent during the short court hearing. Public defender Eric Fleischaker entered the not-guilty plea on his behalf to charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse. Both women were expected to survive after Tuesday's attack, authorities said.
The stabbing comes amid a wave of assaults against Asian Americans — many of them elderly — in San Francisco and across the country since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S.
In the latest attack in San Francisco, authorities haven’t said whether the women were targeted because of their ethnicity. Fleischaker has said it was not racially motivated and that his client has suffered mental health issues his entire adult life. Thompson was denied bail.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin, whose approach of stressing restorative justice over mass incarceration has come under fire, said he will prosecute the case himself. Besides asking that Thompson be held behind bars until trial, Boudin also asked that Thompson stay at least 150 yards (137 meters) away from the victims and the corner in downtown San Francisco where the attack took place. The judge agreed.
Thompson thrived for nearly two years while on a rigorous, court-mandated mental health diversion program but the lack of social services due to the pandemic negatively affected his mental health, Fleischaker said.
A witness said Thompson was carrying a large knife with knuckles on the handle and without warning, attacked the women as they waited for a bus.
“The knife punctured one victim’s lungs, requiring extensive surgery,” the district attorney’s office said. “A knife had to be removed from another victim at the hospital.”
Fleischaker asked the judge for a hearing on Thompson’s detention, which was scheduled for Thursday.