SAN FRANCISCO - A man charged with attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a worker at a Chinatown bakery may have previous connections to the bakery's owner.
"He didn't run away, he just slowly walked out," said Henry Chan, the owner of AA Bakery.
In a new twist, Chan told KTVU that Lai had previously attacked Chan's father years ago.
Lai was released from prison on May 20, nine days before the stabbing. He'd been convicted of the attempted murder of an 89-year-old man and served a 9-year sentence, according to San Francisco prosecutors.
Chan said the older man was his father, who was stabbed in Portsmouth Square in 2016 following a game of cards.
Law enforcement did not say if the two incidents were connected.
In the bakery attack, Chan said he followed Lai out the front door of the bakery and told him to stay there.
Lai was arrested there.
The 58-year-old victim, an immigrant from Hong Kong, was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Chan said she is recovering.
An arraignment Wednesday at the Hall of Justice was delayed until Thursday so that Lai could secure a Cantonese interpreter.
On Thursday, Lai appeared in court but did not enter a plea.
His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Diamond Ward, said her client has been suffering from mental-health issues which were left untreated behind bars.
"We need care, not cages," Ward said. "Prison is a carceral system."
She added, "What are we doing as a community, as a society with individuals like Mr. Lai who have extensive mental-health conditions?"
For the latest stabbing, Lai was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, and second-degree burglary.
"The alleged attack in Chinatown left a woman seriously injured and a neighborhood shocked," DA Brooke Jenkins said in a statement. "I offer my unwavering commitment to pursuing justice and ensuring that the suspect is held accountable for this senseless crime."
AA Bakery was featured last week in Amber Lee's Chinatown series where she shared memories of the food she grew up with as a San Francisco native.