San Jose

Suspect in Deadly Stabbing Attack at San Jose Church Identified

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San Jose police on Wednesday identified the suspect in Sunday's deadly stabbing attack at Grace Baptist Church near San Jose State University.

Fernando Lopez, 32, was identified by Chief Eddie Garcia as the person believed to have stabbed five people — killing two and injuring three — at the church, which provides meals and shelter for the homeless.

Lopez is homeless and a frequent guest at the church, Garcia said. He has worked there and was helping with homeless services on the night of the attack.

Lopez may have been under the influence of drugs prior to the attack, according to Garcia.

"The seemingly random nature of this act likely may be related to drug use, but we can't confirm that at this point," Garcia said.

Garcia and Mayor Sam Liccardo said Lopez, who has a long criminal history and has been deported three times, should not have been out on the streets. They said he had been released in June for a misdemeanor domestic violence arrest, his third such violation, while on probation for a similar offense in another county. They added Santa Clara County should have informed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the time of his release.

"How many more incidents need to occur before there is a policy change?" Garcia said. "We need to work together, and I know we can with our community and with our county. We need to continue the conversation. We can't stop."

County executive Jeff Smith said he's disappointed Garcia and Liccardo are, as he put it, using the attack to push a political agenda. He also said the county will not discuss the issue until the investigation is complete.

Lopez remains in custody. He was supposed to be officially charged Friday, but the district attorney's office said his appearance had to be put off until Dec. 3 due to coronavirus-related issues.

Nguyen Pham, a San Jose city employee and church volunteer, was among the wounded. The other victims, all shelter residents, have not been officially identified.

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