A 40-year-old man from Miami is facing attempted murder and hate crime charges after authorities say he tried to stab a 34-year-old homeless man to death Tuesday night near the 40 East Anapuma Street public library.
Francisco Antonio Diego, who had recently arrived from Los Angeles, was spotted by an off-duty police officer as he allegedly attempted again and again to stab and slash the victim with a knife while yelling racial slurs against African Americans. According to police spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood, Diego — of Hispanic descent — evidence indicates the attack against the homeless man — of Black descent — was racially motivated and started when the victim took Diego’s cigarettes.
Sgt. Todd Johnson was riding his bike home after working a patrol supervisor shift when he happened upon the attack, which took place on the sidewalk of E. Anapuma’s zero block. Drawing his gun, Johnson prevented the victim, who was shielding himself with a backpack, from being stabbed. He detained Diego at gunpoint while bystanders called 9-1-1. When backup arrived, Diego was arrested and booked into County Jail on $1-million bail, the standard amount for the charges he faces, said Harwood.
Deputy District Attorney Wesley Meyer is prosecuting the case. Court-appointed criminal defense attorney Michael Carty represents Diego, whose arraignment has been continued to July 7 in Santa Barbara Superior Court.