So, there is an apparent connection between the stabbing that happened at AA Bakery & Cafe in Chinatown on Monday and the stabbing that sent suspect Fook Poy Lai to prison for the last seven years — the bakery owner's father was the man stabbed by Lai in 2016.
Let's set aside for a second the issue of a mentally ill individual who is known to be violent going in and out of prison without proper treatment for the mental illness that put him in jail in the first place. 61-year-old Fook Poy Lai was apparently mentally competent to stand trial for the 2016 stabbing of an 89-year-old man in Portsmouth Square, and he was sentenced to nine years.
After just seven years, he was let out on parole two weeks ago, and within 10 days, he allegedly walked into AA Bakery on Monday morning and stabbed a woman who was working behind the counter, who had only been working there a short time.
Witnesses described Lai as looking expressionless as he allegedly stabbed the woman in the neck multiple times, and he then stood outside the bakery with the knife in his hand, in no hurry to flee.
Lai was formally charged with attempted murder on Wednesday, and as KTVU reports, the bakery owner, Henry Chan, has now come forward to explain that his father was the victim in that Portsmouth Square stabbing. Police and prosecutors have not yet revealed this detail.
Chan also told the station that the victim in Monday's stabbing, a 58-year-old immigrant from Hong Kong, is recovering from her injuries in the hospital.
"The alleged attack in Chinatown left a woman seriously injured and a neighborhood shocked," said DA Brooke Jenkins in a statement Wednesday. "I offer my unwavering commitment to pursuing justice and ensuring that the suspect is held accountable for this senseless crime."
Lai's arraignment was delayed until today (Thursday), in order for the court to find him a Cantonese interpreter.
The man accused of stabbing a woman at a San Francisco Chinatown bakery on Monday returned to court to face multiple felony charges, but his hearing was postponed. https://t.co/IvKOGK2ZMT pic.twitter.com/du4G91wYhL— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) June 1, 2023
As NBC Bay Area reports, during the court appearance, Lai's public defender requested more time before the arraignment, and the judge granted it. That hearing will now happen June 27.
Deputy Public Defender Diamond Ward faced a "scrum of reporters" outside the courtroom this morning, as the Chronicle reports. And she confirmed that Lai had a long history of mental illness, and characterized him as a victim of the justice system.
"The question I think that we have to ask ourselves is: What are we doing as a community, as a society, with individuals like Mr. Lai who have extensive mental health conditions?" Ward said, per the Chronicle. Ward added that the "carceral system failed Mr. Lai" and said "The criminal justice system denied Mr. Lai access to proper mental health and preventative care."
Questions will certainly be raised in the coming weeks about the decision to parole him early and, presumably, not to remand him into some sort of mental health treatment.