A flower vendor is facing a long and difficult recovery after he was brutally stabbed in an unprovoked attack in South Los Angeles.
The victim, Juan Diaz, 65, was stabbed six times by an assailant while selling flowers near a 105 Freeway off-ramp on Oct. 31. Diaz has been selling flowers in L.A. for the last 20 years.
The suspect, who is described as a young Black or Hispanic man between 15-20 years old, ran away after the attack, police said.
Diaz said he has no idea why someone would choose to attack him like this, but said the community is becoming increasingly unsafe. He’s now unable to work and remains in great pain.
“It’s been changing,” Diaz said through a Spanish translator. “It’s very crazy out there. A lot of people on drugs. All I can hope for is a fast recovery. I need to continue working despite the fear.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Juan said a stranger approached him. He believed the man was coming from the Metro and appeared to be intoxicated. Without warning or instigation, the suspect attacked, stabbing Juan in the chest, shoulder and arm, multiple times.
Cell phone video from a nearby driver captured the terrifying ordeal, where Juan is seen trying desperately to fend off the man who he said grew increasingly aggressive.
“At that point, he began to attack me,” Juan recalled. “I chose not to engage and that’s when I hit him with the flowers. I had two bouquets of flowers. He had already attacked me and he had a knife. I was able to strike him in the face with the bouquets of flowers. He became angrier and he continued to attack me more with the knife.”
Although the type of weapon remains unknown, police believe the suspect may have used a box cutter.
Unfortunately, this incident was not the first time Juan had been violently confronted by a random assailant.
He said about five months ago, a driver who was attempting to steal his earnings had nearly run him over while he was standing near a street corner.
Following the brutal attack, Juan remains bedridden and in excruciating pain. His daughter, Priscilla, and granddaughter, Heidy, have remained by his side.
Priscilla said she’s very worried about her father and that his recovery will unfortunately be a long one.
“I can’t stand seeing him like this,” said Heidy Marquez, Juan’s granddaughter. “It makes me sad.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating, but Juan said the community won’t be safe until the knife-wielding man is behind bars.
“Later, he’s going to continue to harm others as it was done to me,” Juan said. “He’s going to continue doing that if there’s no justice. If there is justice, that’ll be a lot better. I’m only alive because it wasn’t worse than it could have been.”
For now, Juan doesn’t know how long he’ll be in pain or whether the suspect’s knife has punctured his heart. Once he’s fully recovered though, he said he’s prepared to go back to work at the same location where he was attacked.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Juan and his family with medical expenses.
Investigators have since obtained video footage of the suspect from a nearby business. He is described as a young Black or Hispanic man between 15-20 years old with a thin build.
He was last seen wearing a white hat, a multicolor hooded sweatshirt, a gold watch on his right wrist, black/white shoes and was riding a black scooter.
Anyone with information can call LASD’s South Los Angeles Station at 323-820-6700.