SAN FRANCISCO - Surveillance video obtained by KTVU shows the unprovoked stabbing attack of two Asian women in San Francisco, allegedly by a man with a history of assault.
The video shows the man walking toward the two victims waiting for a bus near 4th and Market streets.
Without warning, he stabs a 63-year-old woman from behind.
Moments later, he stabs an 85-year-old woman who also waiting for the bus. The man seems to be in no hurry to leave. A bystander tries to help the older woman, who falls to the ground.
The suspect then calmly walks away.
An image of the suspect, Patrick Thompson, 54, who authorities say is mentally ill, led police assigned to the Tenderloin area to arrest him just hours after the attack.
The 85-year-old victim is recovering after undergoing surgery. An X-ray shows the knife still in her body.
"I'm sure he's mentally ill and he's dangerous," said the woman's grandson Andrew Eng. "It's just sad in SF where our elderly have to be scared to go out. It angers me and it angers everybody I'm sure."
Many are angry that Thompson was free on the streets, despite being arrested for several assaults back in 2017.
KTVU has learned that in one case, he was staying at this homeless shelter at 5th and Bryant when he allegedly used scissors to stab a man in the back six times. Staff held him down until police arrived.
But there were questions in court about Thompson's mental competency, and he was sent to Napa State Hospital to be treated.
He was freed in 2018 and placed on electronic monitoring. Last fall he completed a mental health diversion program.
"Where they just catch and release with these programs that nobody knows about," said Tracy McCray, vice president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
"I guess they get help and then they get better, and then this happens," she said. "So we just hold no one accountable and it's a free for all? Because that's not what you want."
On Thursday, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin charged Thompson with attempted murder, assault and elder abuse. He said he planned to personally represent the prosecution at Thompson's arraignment on Friday.
"What happened is a devastating tragedy, and we will use the full force of our office’s resources to prosecute this case," Boudin said in a statement. "We also need to work hard to stop the next crime from happening, and that involves prevention and treatment."
So far, police have found no evidence the attack was racially motivated.
"There is no indication at this point that there was any type of hate, prejudice," Police Chief Bill Scott told the Police Commission. "We do think at this point that it was random."
Both the chief and the police union say they wished they could put officers on every street corner but said it's hard to stop unprovoked attacks.
The public defender's office, which has represented Thompson, declined to comment on Thursday.