Volume 92, Issue 88

Tuesday, March 16, 1999


Safety knifed again

Pot set to blow back onto shelves

VP wants another year

Future of Ontario's universities indicated

Project gives concrete lesson to engineers

Recycling services to rise not reduce

Wine brings cheap health


Caught on campus

Safety knifed again

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

The rash of violence in downtown London continued last weekend as a male was stabbed inside the Sassafras Cafe & Bistro early Sunday morning.

Dean Watson, a 24-year old London man, suffered multiple stab wounds and was transported to the South Street campus of the London Health Sciences Centre where he is presently in stable condition, said Sgt. John O'Flaherty of the London police.

Mike McDonald, a friend watching over Watson in his hospital room, said he was called at 4 a.m. Sunday and told his friend had been stabbed. "It was pretty serious. It pierced his liver and he had to have an operation."

Watson, who has not talked about the incident much, did tell McDonald he was in the middle of a fight when someone just stuck something in him. "He's not saying much – just sleeping a lot. He's edgy and in severe pain," Watson said.

While no arrests have been made so far, O'Flaherty said the alleged crime will be solved. The incident represents the 10th occurrence in downtown London this year involving an edged weapon, compared to zero at this time last year.

O'Flaherty said he has spoken to officers in Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph who have all reported an increased use of edged weapons. "Knives seem to be the weapon of choice. It's a catch 22 – people think 'If I go downtown I'd better bring a knife because someone else might,'" he said.

London police have stepped up patrols but ultimately it is up to people to recognize potentially threatening situations and back away from them before something happens, O'Flaherty added. "Historically, there have been problems downtown, but we can't be everywhere," he said.

Dino Fotia, owner of Sassafras Cafe & Bistro, said the entire occurrence happened within the span of 30 seconds and no one was really sure exactly what transpired, even Watson. "There were about four or five people caught up in the middle of everything. There was just pushing and shoving – the victim didn't even know he was stabbed until later on," he said.

Fotia said London is still one of the safer cities in Ontario to live in and while this is not the type of publicity his restaurant needs, it is still safe. "I wouldn't have a business if I was scared for my life."

This occurrence will likely result in an even higher police presence in the core, said Joe Swan, councillor for Ward 2. Swan stressed while violence is not a geographic problem but a community problem, the trend towards using knives is troubling.

"This seems to be part of an underground cultural movement that's very alarming and very disturbing. When you prepare for violence – it happens."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999