Delonte Hart’s shoes were already stained with blood when he launched a second unprovoked attack in downtown Santa Rosa, this time in a darkened movie theater, police officials said Tuesday.
The blood evidence led detectives to formally arrest Hart for murder Tuesday, more than three weeks after longtime Santa Rosa resident Cirak Tesfazgi, 32, was found dead near the Riley Street doorway where he often slept, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Josh Ludtke said.
A state lab has also confirmed Hart’s fingerprints were on a knife near Tesfazgi’s body, Ludtke said.
Hart, who was already in custody at the Sonoma County Jail, has been charged with the June 29 attempted murder of a moviegoer at the Roxy Theater. Adam Lucero was stabbed multiple times but survived. Hart was apprehended within minutes of that attack, with witnesses helping officers find him nearby on the Prince Memorial Greenway, Ludtke said.
Hart has pleaded not guilty in the case.
But hours before 911 dispatchers reported a stabbing had taken place at the Roxy, police officers had already been looking around downtown Santa Rosa for Hart. Ludtke said they suspected he may have been the unknown assailant who killed Tesfazgi, who had been stabbed more than 50 times.
Business surveillance video near Riley Street showed images of Hart in the area before Tesfazgi was found dead before 1 a.m. June 27.
Detectives determined the 8-inch J.A. Henckels chef’s knife found near Tesfazgi’s body was likely stolen from Macy’s downtown store, which was missing two of that specific kind of knife from its stock, Ludtke said.
A security guard had coincidentally found and saved an opened chef’s knife package found in a stairwell, keeping it in case the products had been stolen. Surveillance recordings showed Hart leaving the stairwell, Ludtke said.
Store staff told police they saw a man with a full head of dreadlocked hair and a beard around that time in the knife section of the store.
Officers recognized the description of Hart, who had been arrested for public intoxication and contacted on several other occasions by downtown officers, Ludtke said.
Several hours before Lucero was attacked in the Roxy Theater, police had enough information to consider Hart a possible suspect in Tesfazgi’s death and they went looking for him.
Officers fanned out downtown. Ludtke said he had just returned to the station when the first reports of the theater stabbing came over the radio with a description of the suspect.
Ludtke said he and other detectives jumped out of their seats.
“We all looked at each other and said, ‘That’s our guy,’” Ludtke said.
You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or email@example.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.