One of the people wounded in a stabbing attack at a San Francisco Bay Area church that was being used as a homeless shelter was a church employee who tried to intervene, the church’s pastor said.
Rev. David Robinson of San Jose’s Grace Baptist Church told KGO-TV Monday that the attacker was part of a group of between 40 to 50 homeless people who were staying at the church overnight.
The stabbings happened Sunday night at the church and police said a man died there and a woman died at a hospital. Three others were wounded.
“Folks were in the church in the sanctuary and someone came in who was known by the group and the incident went down,” Robinson said.
Robinson didn’t identify the employee, the attacker or the other victims. Grace Baptist Church officials did not immediately respond to a telephone message Tuesday seeking comment.
Police arrested a suspect in the stabbings but his name has not been released. The names of those who died will be released by the Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office after their families are notified, officials said.
Three men who were wounded remained hospitalized Tuesday in stable condition and are expected to survive, said San Jose Police Sgt. Christian Camarillo.
The motive in the attack remains under investigation, Camarillo said.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a tweet that one of the wounded was city employee Nguyen Pham, who volunteered to help the homeless. Liccardo shared a GoFundMe page and asked for help for his family.
The church, through its nonprofit Grace Solutions, offers an overnight winter shelter to up to 50 men and women during cold, rainy weather and it makes showers available daily for drop-in visits to those who may need them, according to the nonprofit’s website.
The temperature in San Jose was in the low 50s when the attack happened Sunday shortly before 8 p.m., but dropped into the high 30s overnight.
The city of 1 million, like the rest of the Bay Area, has experienced a recent rise in homeless people. In San Jose’s latest homeless census conducted in 2019, officials counted 6,097 homeless people — up from 4,350 in 2017.