VENTURA (CBSLA) — New accusations tonight that police did not do enough to protect a father stabbed to death while eating out with his family in Ventura.
As CBSLA’s Cristy Fajardo reports, the family of 35-year-old Anthony Mele say he shouldn’t be memorialized, he should be alive. And they are upset with police for not arresting the suspect, Jamal Jackson, 49, when they had the chance. They are upset at city and state leaders for not addressing the mentally ill and homeless problem and they say the senselessness of his death is making it even harder to bear.
The heartbroken parents described their first-born son as a gentle soul, a hard worker and doting husband and father.
On Wednesday, Mele was having dinner with his wife at the Aloha Steakhouse on the promenade in Ventura. His 5-year-old daughter was on his lap and his parents say he was covering her in kisses when police say a homeless stranger, Jackson, walked into the restaurant and without warning stabbed Mele in the neck.
The owner of the restaurant says it was horrifying for everyone who witnessed it.
“Two of my employees within seconds had compressions going on for the victim,” said Jim Avera, co-owner of Aloha Steakhouse. “Their reaction time was amazing. And then for the employees to put themselves in harms way. They followed this guy outside and so did some of the customers and basically cornered this guy for the police. I think that’s what my employees are struggling with more than anything is they are asking themselves if they could have done more.”
Ventura police have released surveillance footage. It is what they saw when they got a call about Jackson hours before the stabbing. They say the caller complained he was causing a disturbance but they didn’t see one when they watched him on the cameras for about 20 minutes. They say all of their officers were out on other calls so no one was sent to question Jackson.
The Mele family say that was the wrong call and they now want answers.
In the meantime they say that their son did not have life insurance and was the sole provider and they worry what that means for his widow and young daughter. That’s why they have set up a GoFundMe account to help them.