An altercation involving a man known in the Rittenhouse Square areas as a performing juggler ended with two other men being stabbed with a sharp object, possibly a knife, on Friday afternoon along Walnut Street.
The juggler, who was not officially identified or charged, was taken into custody, and all three were taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital to be treated.
Police said the stabbings occurred shortly after 4:30 p.m. in the area of 18th and Walnut Streets. A 24-year-old man was stabbed in the neck and chest, and suffered a cut on his forehead. A 33-year-old man was stabbed in the right shoulder. Both were reported in stable condition at Jefferson.
The suspect was taken by police to Jefferson for injuries to his face. Police said he was also struck in the back with a bicycle chain.
Police reported that the weapon was not recovered.
Jeff Nixon, 35, who lives in the neighborhood, was near the intersection when the altercation erupted and he recorded a 4 minute, 34 second video of nearly the entire incident.
Before he started recording, Nixon said, he heard a commotion coming from Rittenhouse Square and saw a man he recognized as the juggler yelling at a group of young people. They exchanged words and then the suspect took out his phone and apparently started recording video of the group, which provoked some of the people, Nixon said.
Then a woman advanced toward the suspect and started screaming at him. That's when Nixon began recording his video.
In it, the woman is seen advancing and the suspect, wearing a hat and shorts, is walking backward and reaching into a shoulder bag. He then produces what appears to be a knife, and the woman screams and runs off.
The suspect then runs forward and stabs in the back a man who had been standing at the southwest corner of 18th and Walnut. The victim appears to be restraining a second man who falls down in the unfolding mayhem.
“You just stabbed me, and I got nothing to do with it,” the first victim says.
The second man grabs what appears to be a heavy chain for locking a bicycle. The two men then walk toward the suspect, who starts to back up in the middle of Walnut with stunned bystanders watching.
The second man strikes the suspect with the chain, which drops to the ground. The suspect picks it up and swings it, striking the second man in the head. The two men continue to pursue the suspect, who is still holding the chain and what appears to be a stick-like object, and finally converge on him.
The suspect can then be seen making repeated stabbing motions into the second man’s shoulder. They all fall to the ground, and other people kick the suspect while he is on the ground.
Suddenly they run off, and the suspect is seen sitting in the middle of Walnut bloodied and dazed. He gets up, still holding the weapon, and someone who appears to be a police officer in a white supervisor shirt approaches. The suspect and some other people direct the officer toward where the others ran off and the officer moves in that direction. It appears the suspect is still holding the weapon as well as the chain.
Nixon said the incident was immediately viewed racially by onlookers because the juggler is white and the two stabbing victims are Black. Even though they were the victims, people in the middle of the block may have only seen the two Black men advancing on the white man, who initially received a show of support from some bystanders, Nixon said.
Nixon said he was surprised that the first officer in the white shirt did not detain the suspect while he was still holding the weapon. A second officer arrived and drew his gun, and ordered the suspect to drop the weapon, Nixon said. The suspect was then handcuffed and taken away.