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Witness describes fatal Metro Red Line stabbing

August 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police are seeking a suspect in the fatal stabbing of a 59-year-old man on the Metro Red Line in Hollywood Friday night. The murder is the first on the Metro Red Line, which has been open for 17 years.

Todd Martens was among scores of commuters onboard Friday evening. He witnessed two passengers get into an altercation, resulting in one man fatally stabbing the other.

After some sort of dispute, North Hollywood resident Jesse Garay, 59, flailed at another man in the car with what looked like a metal chain but turned out to be plastic. The other man was carrying two skateboards.

"I never actually saw it hit the man. It didn't actually look like the two were actually connecting either physically or in any sort of way, it just kind of looked like a really sort of chaotic sort of melee. It didn't really look like a real brawl was happening," said Martens.

Then Martens saw what looked like a hunting knife.

"Maybe three or four inches wide and I just kind of -- when I saw that I was just kind of paralyzed, like staring at the knife," said Martens. "And then he moved forward and I just kind of feared the worst and the next time I looked up, the man was on the ground. Everybody was running to the back of the train."

Garay lay bleeding on the ground. Before the doors opened at the Vine station, the attacker spoke to the victim.

"He seemed to sort of be like, 'Why did you make me do that? Why did you force that to happen?' And then he started pleading with the other passengers, 'You all saw that, that was self-defense, right? That was self-defense, right?'"

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is searching for the suspect. They believe he is an Asian man in his 20s with a stocky build and acne scars on his face, and believed to frequent the Hollywood area.

Martens said he still believes the Metro is safe and plans to continue riding it.

If you have information about the incident, contact Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives at (323) 890-5500. Anonymous tips can be reported at Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS and lacrimestoppers.org, or text the letters "TIPLA" to CRIMES (274637) by cellphone.

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