A 53-year-old man who was stabbed in the abdomen Saturday night at one of Key West’s most famous tourist spots was in stable condition Tuesday, police said.
The stabbing took place in the city’s “panhandling zone,” a space created in the parking lot at Mallory Square to allow begging in public and help stave off any accusations of discrimination against the homeless. Public panhandling outside of the zone is illegal.
Key West police haven’t made any arrests. They said they are looking for a suspect named “Carlito,” who witnesses said left his backpack and inline skates at the scene.
Sgt. Mark Siracuse said he had dealt with the suspect before and found a photo of Carlito on body camera footage. The victims identified the man in the picture as the attacker. But police didn’t release the photo.
Police arrived at Mallory Square, where tourists flock to watch the famous Sunset Celebration festivities, at 7:24 p.m. Saturday to find Carroll B. Jordan on the ground bleeding from his abdomen, according to the incident report released Tuesday.
Jordan told police that Carlito had sucker-punched his friend, Kenneth Duane Fleming, 51, in the head, knocking him to the ground and Jordan tried to intervene.
Jordan was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.
Carlito then reached into a camouflage backpack and took out a knife. He stabbed Jordan, leaving a four-inch laceration on his abdomen.
A third victim, Terry Backus, 47, said he was stabbed in the head and arm when he tried to stop Carlito from punching Fleming, police said.
According to a witness, Carlito and Fleming were having an argument and Carlito came up behind him and punched him in the head. Then Carlito stabbed the two men who tried to get him off Fleming.
Carlito ran south. Police described the victims and the suspect as homeless. But Jordan gave an address of St. Petersburg, while Backus said he is from North Carolina and Fleming gave an address in Marathon.
Anyone with any information may contact Crime Stoppers at 866-471-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous and if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller may be eligible for a cash reward. Tips may also be submitted online at www.floridakeyscrimestoppers.com