Man held in stabbing of two behind Modesto store

12/21/2012 2:27 PM

12/21/2012 11:11 PM

A 42-year-old man was in custody Friday after police say he stabbed two men with a large hunting knife behind a west Modesto store Thursday, including a nearby resident who ran out of his home and tried to intervene before he was stabbed in the head.

The men who were stabbed suffered injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, said Modesto police Lt. Jolene Gonzales.

James Kelly Spears was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. His bail was set at $50,000.

The attack occurred about 1:30 p.m. Thursday behind the business near South Jefferson and Maple streets. Before the attack, Spears had walked into the business. Gonzales said employees offered to pay Spears some money if he went behind the business to clear some garbage.

Gonzales there encountered a group of migrant workers; police didn't know what the workers were doing.

Spears attacked one of the workers with the knife with a serrated edge, Gonzales said, and there was no indication that Spears had been provoked or that a fight escalated to the stabbing.

She said another man was inside his home cooking chicken when he saw the stabbing occurring outside his window. The man ran out and tried to stop the attack, but Spears stabbed him in the head, the lieutenant said.

"He just snapped and went off on these guys," Gonzales said about Spears.

Witnesses told police that Spears then grabbed a gasoline container from a nearby home and started splashing the fuel around the area. There's no indication Spears tried to light the gasoline before he ran away.

Officers responded to the area and were told Spears ran into a nearby home, where his relatives lived, police later learned.

Officers surrounded the home and called for Spears to come out. After several minutes, he came out and surrendered without further incident.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at or (209) 578-2394.

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