Man Stabbed to Death Inside DC's Petworth Library; Patrons Restrain Suspect

Library patrons disarmed and detained the suspect until police arrived

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A man stabbed and killed another man inside a D.C. library in front of horrified library patrons Thursday evening, causing two patrons to jump into action to restrain him, police said.

It happened inside the Petworth Neighborhood Library in the 4200 block of Kansas Avenue NW about 7:30 p.m., as the popular community spot was filled with people.

The victim and suspect appeared to be experiencing homelessness and knew each other, police said.

"This also appears to be a targeted attack," Metropolitan Police Executive Assistant Chief Ashan Benedict said.

[People at the library] intervened. They stopped this individual from continuing his attack. They disarmed him. They held him until police arrived. They undoubtedly saved lives.

Executive Assistant Chief Ashan Benedict, Metropolitan Police Department

The victim entered the library and sat at a computer on the first floor when the suspect followed him in, police said. The suspect approached him slowly, pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim in the neck, authorities said.

People inside the library managed to disarm and detain the suspect until police arrived.

"They intervened," Benedict said. “They stopped this individual from continuing his attack. They disarmed him. They held him until police arrived.”

Joseph, a student at the University of the District of Columbia, was one of the patrons who jumped into action. He said he was at a table on the first floor, studying for midterm exams, when he heard a commotion.

“I thought someone was getting punched, or something,” he said. "So, that’s when somebody said, 'He has a knife!'"

As terrified library patrons reacted, with parents grabbing their children, Joseph says he knew what he had to do. Another man joined in to help.

Police praised the actions of the two men, who secured the suspect until they arrived.

"They undoubtedly saved lives," Benedict said.

Officers led the suspect from the library not long after the fatal stabbing. His hands were handcuffed behind his back; he was wearing socks, but no shoes. Officers searched him before placing him in a transport vehicle parked on Georgia Avenue.

Police said they recovered the knife at the scene.

They have not yet released identifying information about either the suspect or the victim.

The library will remain closed through the weekend and reopen Monday.

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