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Homeless Man Arrested After Stabbing at Westminster Stater Bros.

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A homeless man was arrested after stabbing another homeless man repeatedly in the back, neck and head outside of a supermarket in Westminster on Feb. 12. 

Sang Van Phan, 47, is homeless but a longtime resident of Westminster. According to OC Police, Phan assaulted another man in the parking lot of a Stater Bros. supermarket at 8522 Westminster Boulevard before 9 a.m. on Feb. 12. 

According to Westminster Police Department (WPD) Deputy Chief Cameron Knauerhaze, Phan had stumbled inside and taken shelter at a nearby laundromat post-incident. A witness had then directed officers to an injured Phan. 

At the scene of the incident, a knife was found and recovered by law enforcement, resulting in Phan being arrested for attempted murder. 

The Orange County Fire Authority transported the unidentified victim to UCI Medical Center, where he was treated for wounds to the head, back and neck. As of Feb. 12, he was expected to survive, according to WPD. 

According to the WPD, encounters with Phan have occurred for the past 10 years in the same area where the stabbing took place. The cause of this particular stabbing was believed to stem from an unknown ongoing territorial dispute. 

A similar incident took place near the store when Phan was involved in another territorial altercation on Jan. 29. A fight between Phan and an elderly homeless man broke out, which resulted in the elder being stabbed. 

“It was an argument over … the other homeless man being there,” Deputy Police Chief Knauerhaze said. “And then the next thing that victim knew he was being stabbed by our suspect.”

California ranks first in the nation for the highest rate of homelessness among its population. Orange County itself saw a 40% increase in homelessness from 2020 to 2021, going from 70 unsheltered individuals to 176.

Prior to his release on Feb. 2, Phan had been kept at Theo Lacy Facility and was not charged for the incident, according to Orange County Sheriff’s Department booking records.

However, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will be re-reviewing the Jan. 29 incident, given that Phan was the perpetrator of a second stabbing only weeks later. 

“Disturbingly, this suspect was arrested just weeks earlier for stabbing another elderly homeless man during a dispute. While WPD Officers make incredible efforts to aid homeless people in need, this is a firm reminder of the violent and repeat offenders that commingle in our homeless community and choose a life of crime,” Knauerhaze said

Anyone with information about the dispute is advised to contact the WPD Detective Bureau at (714) 898-3315. 

Kayode Giwa is a City News Intern for the winter 2022 quarter. He can be reached at kgiwa@uci.edu.