A beloved volunteer has been identified as one of five victims of a "horrific stabbing" at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose, California, that left two dead on Sunday night.
The volunteer, who is among the three survivors of the attack, was identified by Jenny Do as Nguyen Pham, an advocate for the homeless and “community hero” in a Go Fund Me campaign that's seeking to raise $30,000 to help cover his medical bills.
“Nguyen Pham is a community hero to me. He has worked tirelessly to support vulnerable communities in San Jose and beyond! While volunteering at Grace Baptist Church last night, November 22, 2020, Nguyen was stabbed and seriously injured. He is currently hospitalized and is now in stable condition. Hospital bills and other related costs will be a burden for him; therefore, I am reaching out to everyone to pitch in for our young hero!” Do wrote on the campaign Monday.
Grace Baptist Church runs a faith-based winter program in the gymnasium and basement of the church for “the forgotten and vulnerable,” according to its website. Senior Pastor David Robinson told NBC Bay Area that one of the stabbing victims was a shelter worker trying to intervene in a dispute that erupted among four others who were staying there. He did not provide any further details.
“These individuals that were involved in this tragedy last night, they’re our brothers and sisters,” Robinson told the network Monday.
The San Jose Police Department reported that at approximately 7:54 p.m. Sunday, officers responded to a report of a stabbing at the Grace Baptist Church on the 400 block of East San Fernando Street. When they arrived, they found five victims suffering from at least one stab wound each. An adult male victim was pronounced dead at the scene while an adult female succumbed to her injuries at a local hospital. Three male victims, including Pham, remain hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
As of Tuesday morning, police had not publicly identified any of the victims or a suspect currently in custody, but SJPD Sgt. Christian Camarillo said the attacker was “a very motivated individual.”
“We had a very motivated individual who was able to stab five people, this isn’t like a shooting, in a stabbing you have to get up close and personal, luckily we got here quickly and were able to take that person into custody,” Camarillo said.
Shaunn Cartwright, who volunteers with the homeless community in San Jose, told The Mercury News that he was shocked about the stabbing because he left the church Sunday evening before the stabbing and had seen no signs that a tragedy of Sunday night’s magnitude would have happened.
“To be honest, I’m just shocked,” he said. “You just feel like you walked out of the room for a second and all Hell broke loose.”
Cartwright said she was familiar with the suspect as a homeless person who frequented the church. She told The Mercury News that she had seen him at the church earlier on Sunday and he was upbeat and laughing when she left at about 7:15 p.m.
Despite the tragedy at the church, Robinson told the publication that they will continue serving the homeless.
“I do want to say, this is what faith is all about. Faith is risking it all. We risk knowing both the rewards and the reality that there will be problems, pain, and conflict. We are called to this radical hospitality for those who need it the most. This is our call, our purpose, our mission, and the way we love Jesus,” Robinson said. “As a church community, we will continue to be with those that suffer. We will continue to advocate for better mental health and substance use.”