City Councilman David Oh knows he was "lucky."
"I feel very good, good health, good spirits, good everything," Oh told reporters at an impromptu news conference on his front porch on the 5800 block of Thomas Avenue, where he has lived for five decades.
His upbeat assessment came hours after his release Thursday from a hospital for treatment of stab wounds suffered in an apparent robbery attempt outside his Southwest Philadelphia home Wednesday night.
Oh, dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, said he was coming home from work about 9:40 p.m. He pulled up to see a neighbor on a nearby porch and a man he did not recognize walking by. Oh assumed the man was headed to talk to his neighbor. As Oh unpacked bags from his Chevrolet Equinox SUV, the man turned and walked back toward him.
"His demeanor completely changed," Oh said.
The man demanded the keys to his vehicle and stabbed Oh once on his side with a sharp shiv.
Oh said he initially thought he'd been punched, not stabbed, and tried to keep a conversational distance between himself and the man to deescalate the situation.
Then the assailant swung at Oh's face and grazed his left arm, which he had used to shield himself. As Oh spoke, a red scrape was still visible on the back of his forearm. A bloody bandage covered his side underneath his T-shirt.
"I'm very lucky," Oh said, noting the many organs the blade could have struck on his left side.
Police are continuing to search for the assailant, described as an African American man in his 20s with a scruffy beard and wearing black clothes.
Oh's neighbor Elliott Williams, 36, witnessed the altercation and said Thursday morning that the offender appeared to be in "attack mode," advancing on Oh with a knife even after Oh had been stabbed and had dropped his belongings on the street.
Oh said the man, who did not appear to be drunk or high, demanded his keys and his wallet. The man fled once Williams yelled from his porch that he would call police. The assailant did not take the keys to Oh's SUV or any other belongings before running away, Oh said.
The crime shocked city officials, who almost universally described Oh — Council's only current military veteran — as tough and recovering quickly.
City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said Oh wanted to be back for a city budget vote expected this month.
"He assured me he will do his best," Clarke told reporters at a City Hall news conference.
Oh's neighbor, Williams, speaking Thursday morning on his front porch a few doors down from the councilman's house, echoed that sentiment, saying Oh, whom he calls "Mr. David," was able to walk across the street after the assailant ran away.
"He handled himself real strong," Williams said.
Williams said he was in a second-floor bedroom Wednesday night when he heard Oh pull up in front of his rowhouse. The leafy block, on the edge of Kingsessing and bordering a closed school campus and Cobbs Creek, is generally quiet at night, Williams said. But after Oh got out of his car, Williams recalled, he soon heard a commotion — including Oh saying "no, no."
After the assailant fled, Williams dashed toward Oh, who was bleeding through his button-down shirt, he said. The two walked back to Oh's house, where Williams said he helped retrieve a towel to put on the wound until police arrived.
During the assault Oh and Williams reported seeing two men taking photos or video of the action.
Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives said the men recording drove away in a white car, which had been double-parked in the middle of the street. Authorities want to see the photos or video and are not sure if those recording were acting as good Samaritans trying to capture the attack or were in some way connected to the crime.
Walker said police already have four pieces of surveillance video they will examine, in hopes of finding some clues.
Williams, who has five young foster children, said another neighbor was robbed on the block recently after taking the train home. The neighborhood, which police statistics say is one of the more violent in the city, has recorded 19 robberies and 43 assaults in the last three months — including at least one assault on each of the five blocks south of Thomas Avenue.
That is part of the reason Williams said he's so quick to try to protect everyone on his street.
"I'm the one that's up watching everything," he said. "We're like a family."
Oh has been known to protect his neighborhood as well. He was questioned multiple times by police about pulling guns on his block in the 1990s. He was charged with shooting into the air while on his property to scare a group he thought were prostitutes and drug dealers near his family's home. The charges were dismissed.
Oh told the Daily News in 2011, recounting the incident, that police did not monitor the neighborhood well back then, making him the "only order on the street."
He said Thursday he holds no animosity toward the man but considers him dangerous and wants him apprehended to protect others from any similar attacks.
Clarke decried violence citywide. While overall violent crime is down about 1 percent compared with last year, Clarke said it was unacceptable that nearly 300 people are killed in the city every year, and even more are shot or otherwise assaulted.
"It's no longer OK to have one, two people shot every night and be like, whatever," Clarke said, adding that Council expected to introduce crime-related legislation next week.