Bizarre knife attack at popular Main Street restaurant
At around 3:00 in the afternoon on May 19, a patron entered Locus Lounge on Main Street and sat down on the patio. Over the next five hours, according to staff, he proceeded to consume eight drinks, two appetizers, and a dessert. His stay was long enough that the server who had been waiting on him initially, Melanie Pilot, had to pass on the table to a co-worker at the end of her shift.
At the hand-over, she mentioned that she felt he was “polite, but quite strange.” Pilot recalled, “He was very nice.”
However, when he kept ordering food and drinks, showing no sign of leaving, Pilot found it “strange and excessive” for a single person, prompting her to alert her co-worker that she ought to keep an eye on him.
At approximately 5:30, Craig Birks began his shift as bartender, and at about 8:00, the man’s server approached him to settle his bill. Reportedly, he replied that he was not yet ready to leave, and did not want to pay at that time because he did not want to have two bills.
Said Birks, “That’s weird. Usually people are happy to settle up. So that raised another red flag.”
A short while later, a server approached Birks and told him: “You have to hear what that table has to say.”
So he went to the table, which had a clear view of the patio through a window.
“He said ‘call the cops, that guy just tried to stab somebody.’”
The patio at Locus has a relatively unique design: diners face the street as they eat. Over the evening, according to Birks, the suspect had slowly shifted towards the entrance of the patio. This had deepened existing suspicions amongst the wait staff and had, in part, prompted the request to pay his bill.
According to witnesses, he then left his seat and attempted to stab a male passer-by with a small knife, in what appeared to be a random attack. Then, he sat back down.
Birks walked to approach the man, who denied that he had done anything. When Birks pressed him about the knife which was still gripped in his hand, the man lunged at Birks, who had to shield himself defensively. The man then fled down the street.
Birks pursued him around the corner.
“I was just thinking that I have to get this guy to pay his bill,” he said.
He followed the suspect down King Edward Avenue, when the man reportedly turned around and charged towards Birks. At this point, he was no longer holding the knife. Unbeknownst to Birks, several other witnesses had followed him in his pursuit. Seeming to notice the crowd, the suspect abandoned his charge and proceeded to ask Birks why he was following him.
“I think I said ‘look, I just want you to pay your bill, and that’s all.’ So he came back to Locus. But when he got there, he could hear somebody on the phone describing him and that’s when he took off the second time.”
The man then reportedly ran across Main Street, through traffic, and down 27th avenue. Police responded within minutes. Within a few more minutes, they had the suspect in custody. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured in the incident, although the intended victim was reportedly very shaken.
Joseph Ragenard has since been charged with assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and fraudulently obtaining food. At the time of his arrest, he reportedly had no means of paying his bill.
According to VPD Media Liaison Officer Constable Brian Montague, Mr. Ragenard does have a criminal record and is known to police. He has been released pending a court date on May 31 in Vancouver Provincial Court.