Spate of stabbings
Councilman watches as police draw weapons
If Chico City Councilman Randall Stone was looking for excitement on the night he chose to do a ride-along with a Chico police officer, he certainly got it.
The ride-along took place on one of the nights during the first week in December that saw a rash of stabbings in Chico, beginning with the Dec. 4 assault of a 26-year-old man on West Sacramento Avenue near Chico High School and ending with the stabbing of two people at a residence on East Lassen Avenue on Dec. 7.
The latter incident happened on the night the newly elected Stone was on a ride-along with Chico police officer Peter Durfree, one of 17 officers who eventually responded to the call. The suspect, 43-year-old Jonathan Lehmann, was thought to be in the house when officers arrived.
“It was very intense,” Stone recalled. “We pulled right up on the scene, and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.”
He said he watched as paramedics and officer Durfee pulled a man out of a truck parked in front of the residence.
“This guy was not responsive at all,” Stone said. “They were performing CPR on him, and the word was he was going to have a tough time making it.”
He said the second victim was up and talking with police.
“Then I noticed a change in the officers’ behavior,” Stone said. “They were suddenly hiding behind a white van parked in front of the house, and their guns were drawn.”
Stone said he remained in the patrol car for about an hour and a half before another officer came by and moved him to a second patrol car.
“The [first] car I was in was right in front of the house,” Stone said, “and I was the only one that close not wearing a bulletproof vest.”
Officers eventually forced the front door open, but the house was empty. The suspect, Lehmann, reportedly lives in the house and is on probation.
Court records show Lehmann’s been in county court on a number of charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a destructive device, making criminal threats and obstructing a police officer. The case has been turned over to the Chico Police Department’s detective unit.
Two other stabbings occurred that same day.
At about 2 a.m. a man reported he’d been smoking a cigarette outside an apartment on the 600 block of Rancheria Drive when an SUV pulled up and four men jumped out of the vehicle and attacked him, inflicting two stab wounds to his upper torso. The four suspects then jumped back into the vehicle and left. The victim was treated and released at Enloe.
At around 5:30 that afternoon a man was reportedly stabbed from behind while walking near his apartment on Humboldt Road. Police were dispatched to Enloe, where they contacted 25-year-old Joshua Pennock, who also said his attacker took nothing from him. He was treated and released and then arrested because he was wanted on a parole violation by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
In the Dec. 4 case, the victim said he was attacked from behind by two men while walking near the high school. He received a single stab wound to his back, and said he didn’t know his attackers or why they attacked him. They ran away without taking any of the victim’s property. He was treated at Enloe Medical Center and released.
The spate of stabbings continued this week. On Tuesday (Dec. 11), a 30-year-old man walking along the 1500 block of East Avenue at about 9:45 p.m. was approached by the driver of a car who demanded the man’s wallet and cell phone. The suspect reportedly then brandished a knife and swung at the victim, cutting the palm of his hand. The suspect kicked the man and then took off with the wallet and cell phone. The victim was taken to Enloe for treatment.
About two and a half hours later police received the report of a stabbing off Vallombrosa Avenue behind the Christian & Johnson building near Lost Park. Officers located a small homeless camp and a 33-year-old transient suffering from stab wounds to his abdomen and leg. He was taken to Enloe for emergency surgery.
Officers contacted a second person at the camp, 33-year-old Thomas Lake, who said the victim had tried to stab him during a fight. He said he took the knife away and stabbed his attacker. Lake was arrested and booked into the Butte County Jail.