Nov. 04–Sacramento police announced Wednesday that they have made an arrest in the attack on Air Force hero Spencer Stone, who thwarted a terrorist attack on a French train in August and later was stabbed during a midtown brawl.
Police said they have arrested James Tran, 28, of Sacramento County for allegedly stabbing Stone.
Tran was arrested about 7 a.m. Wednesday during a police traffic stop near Highway 99 and Bond Road. Police had been aware of his possible involvement in the attack and were building a case.
Police Chief Sam Somers said during a press conference that after Tran’s arrest for attempted murder, officers served a search warrant on the suspect’s house in the 7800 block of Dersingham Drive in the suburban Vineyard area between Sacramento and Elk Grove.
Stone was stabbed four times during a fight at 12:45 a.m. Oct. 8 at 21st and K streets. He was rushed to UC Davis Medical Center, where he underwent surgery.
Somers said two groups got into an argument outside over somebody video recording. Somers said that a member of Tran’s party allegedly was video recording a woman in Stone’s party.
Words were exchanged, but then acrimony died down only to re-escalate into a fight. It was during a fight in the intersection that Tran is alleged to have circled behind Stone and stabbed him.
“It is a great day for the city of Sacramento,” Somers said of Tran’s arrest.
Stone’s mother, Joyce Eskel, said she was very pleased with the police effort and said never lost confidence in the nearly month-long investigation.
“The police have been unbelievable,” Eskel said. “We are very happy the police worked as hard as they did.”
According to records in Sacramento Superior Court, Tran faced drug and weapons charges in 2007 and 2008. Most were dismissed, but in 2008 he pleaded no contest to the charge of possession of methamphetamine for sale. He was sentenced to 365 days on work furlough and five years’ probation.
In an exclusive interview with The Sacramento Bee, the suspect’s uncle, Michael Tran, said his nephew was a good boy that had recently been hanging out with the wrong crowd. The uncle expressed disbelief at the arrest, after being informed about it by a reporter.
“I can’t control him. That’s how it is with American children,” Michael Tran said in Mandarin. “He’s nearly 30 years-old, and if he’s not mature enough, that’s going to be a problem.”
Asked about the drug charges, Michael Tran said his nephew was taken advantage of by other people.
The uncle said Tran graduated high school, moved out of the house years ago and most recently worked as a waiter for a Japanese restaurant. The suspect lost his father a few years back and never communicated with the divorced mother, who lives in China, the uncle said.
Michael Tran said his nephew would not start a fight and suggested that something must have transpired between the two parties.
“It’s about loyalty to your brothers,” Michael Tran said. “You help me, I help you. They were trying to protect each other.”
Sacramento police have provided few details in the chronology of events leading up to the physical brawl.
Asked whether it was Stone, Tran or someone else who threw the first punch, spokeswoman Officer Traci Trapani said, “that’s yet to be determined.”
Other people in the fight are known but are now being classified as witnesses, not suspects, police said. Police believe Tran started the fight and Stone was responding.
Somers described Stone as the victim in the incident.
Stone, 23, has since been released from the hospital and was promoted to staff sergeant from airman 1st class during a ceremony Friday at Travis Air Force Base in which officials cited his “heroic actions” in the French train incident.
During the midtown attack, Stone suffered a punctured heart, liver and lung and later had open heart surgery.
Stone and two childhood friends from Sacramento became instant celebrities in August when they tackled and disarmed a gunman on a French train.
The police department had released camera images of the vehicle they believe was driven by Stone’s attackers. The photos were captured on a Police Observation Device camera in midtown. The still images were captured before the assault.
A security camera at a midtown bottle shop captured the melee on video.
Editor’s note (Nov. 4): This story has been changed to note that James Tran resides in the Vineyard area between Sacramento and Elk Grove, not in the city of Elk Grove.
Video: Full-length surveillance video of Spencer Stone stabbing
Sacramento native Spencer Stone was stabbed in midtown Sacramento early Thursday. This is video of the attack. READ: French train attack hero Spencer Stone stabbed in midtown Sacramento
Hudson Sangree: 916-321-1191, @hudson_sangree
(c)2015 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.