Man stabbed multiple times inside Santa Rosa’s Roxy Theater

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Two random stabbings in downtown Santa Rosa could be linked, police officials said Wednesday.

A 23-year-old man was in the custody of Santa Rosa police Wednesday after attacking an unnamed 21-year-old man during a showing of “The Shallows” at the Roxy Theater.

The victim was taken conscious to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with life-threatening injuries, said Santa Rosa Police Captain Ray Navarro.

The call about the stabbing came in at 4:07 p.m., just 30 minutes after the movie started in Theater 9.

Police say the 23-year-old attacker came up behind the victim and stabbed him multiple times before leaving the knife in a trash can outside the auditorium and exiting through the theater lobby.

The brutal attack echoes the one that led to the death of Cirak Tesfazgi, 32, who was stabbed 50 times just after midnight Monday morning in a downtown Santa Rosa doorway where he sometimes slept.

The similarities have detectives examining all evidence to determine if the movie theater attacker also killed Tesfazgi,

“Based on the randomness of the act, the brutality of the act, certainly he’s a person we’re looking into as a suspect,” Sgt. Josh Ludtke said.

Ludtke described a scene of confusion and commotion in the theater as the movie played.

“Out of nowhere, he came up from behind him, he stabbed him in the throat, in the arm, in the lung,” Ludtke said.

Other movie patrons at the thinly attended showing rushed to the victim’s aid as the suspect ran out.

Nearby officers heard the 911 call and took the man into custody on Prince Memorial Greenway, just beyond a set of stairs leading to the path from South A Street. Ludtke said the man was “calm and nonchalant.” He was questioned at the Santa Rosa Police Department, Navarro said.

It doesn’t appear the attacker or the victim knew each other. Navarro classified the stabbing as “random.”

The attacker gave a name and age but had no ID and police have found no sure proof of who he is, despite a previous arrest, Ludtke said. He told police he’s from the East Coast. He apparently came into town about four months ago, and it’s not clear why, police said.

“We are still trying to figure out who he is,” Ludtke said.

The man had recently been arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public in Santa Rosa.

Ludtke described the man as black with a full beard and dreadlocks.

In Monday’s attack, a bent chef’s knife was found on the ground near Tesfazgi’s body. Navarro didn’t know what kind of knife was used in Wednesday’s attack.

“Right now we’re working on this particular case,” Navarro said. “We’re looking to see if there’s any correlation with any other crimes that occurred, and that includes the homicide that happened earlier (this week).”

Navarro could not say whether or not the attacker appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

On Wednesday night, police shut the entire upstairs of the two-story theater to collect evidence.

Roxy Theater Assistant Manager Giovana Garcia declined to comment further, but said the theater was expected to be fully open Thursday.

Navarro asked that anyone with information, contact Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Josh Ludtke at 543-3590.

You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 521-5205 or christi.warren@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @SeaWarren.

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