Police were at apartment 10 minutes before stabbing
Just 10 minutes before the report came in that a Rochester man had fatally stabbed two of his neighbors at the Salvation Army’s Castleview Apartments, Rochester police had mediated an argument between the three men.
Glenn Roger Johnson, 53, is expected to face two counts of second-degree murder in Olmsted County District Court on Tuesday. He was arrested shortly after the stabbing on Saturday night, while attempting to flee from a rear stairway.
Authorities are still trying to piece together the circumstances that allegedly led to Johnson fatally stabbing two neighbors, whom he had reportedly "bickered with quite a bit," Police Capt. John Sherwin said. Police identified the two victims as Eric Alan Flemming, 45, and Phillip William Hicks, 57. They were both found with stab wounds to the chest and torso in their separate fourth floor apartments, just doors from Johnson’s own.
Hicks had called police around 6:29 p.m. to report harassment because he and Johnson had allegedly been involved in a verbal altercation, Sherwin said. Responding officers were "familiar" with both of the men, Sherwin said, and tried to resolve the incident. No criminal charges were filed and officers cleared the scene around 7:05 p.m.
Just 10 minutes later police received a second call. This time, it was a report that two men had been stabbed.
Police say what exactly led to the confrontation — and the stabbing a short time later — is still unclear. Johnson was initially cooperative when taken into custody, but once detained he declined to tell officers what had happened, Sherwin said. Johnson was "definitely under the influence of alcohol," he said.
"There was no indication anything would happen to the officers that had just been there," Sherwin said. "This was clearly an incident that no one saw coming."
The two men were pronounced dead around 8 p.m. at Mayo Clinic Hospital–Saint Marys, roughly 45 minutes after they were stabbed. Both victims were stabbed in the chest and upper abdomen with what police identified as "standard kitchen knives," Sherwin said.
Authorities were collecting evidence at the downtown apartment complex until at least 3 a.m., including the two knives found in Johnson’s apartment.
"Our officers are there frequently," Sherwin said of Castleview Apartments, but noted the building is well-managed with on-site security and a front desk attendant.
This is Rochester’s first multiple-victim homicide since June 1, 1996, Sherwin said.
Anne Bashaw-Meyer, Salvation Army’s director of development and community engagement, said she was "shocked" and "saddened" to hear of the stabbings. However, she declined to answer specific questions while the police investigation continues.
"This was a terrible tragedy, and it is being investigated," the Salvation Army said in a prepared statement. "Until the police have done their investigation, there’s really nothing we can provide until that has been accomplished."
The Castleview Apartments are a 32-unit building aimed at providing shelter for those who are homeless, disabled, in poverty or have mental health issues. It’s a secure building with a locked front door. All three men were residents, Sherwin said.
Salvation Army Maj. Jim Frye, leader of the local chapter, declined comment Sunday morning prior to leading a service for about 40 worshippers at the nearby Salvation Army. The stabbings were not directly referenced, but one attendee requested prayers for her neighbors at Castleview Apartments.
That woman declined comment afterward, as did other Castleview residents approached by the Post Bulletin throughout the day.
Frye’s sermon discussed doors and safety concerns in today’s world. While Saturday’s stabbings were never directly mentioned, Frye said he grew up never locking his front door — but locking doors has become common practice, because "we live in a day and age when we have to be cautious."
"Is the devil having his way in the world we live in?" Frye asked his congregation.
Four people have now died in Rochester this year in three separate homicides.
On Jan. 14, Alexander Weiss shot Muhammed Rahim after a traffic incident. He’s claimed self defense after being charged in Olmsted County District Court with second-degree murder, without intent.
On March 12, Ahmed Muafaq Abdulhussain Al Naddf was shot and killed near his home in Northwest Rochester. Sao Yim Jr., 25, was charged Thursday in Olmsted County District Court with second-degree murder, without intent. Eric Tyler Lee, 25, was also charged with one count of aiding an offender to avoid arrest, which is a felony.
Police called to apparent stabbing at Castleview residence