Visitors raise concerns after Woodward Park stabbing

FRESNO, Calif.

Police say a fight between two homeless men led to the attack across from the dog park area.

Thomas Ricci, 20, was arrested for attacking a 28-year-old man who is now in stable condition. The stabbing has heightened awareness among park visitors who plan to take new safety precautions.

Woodward Park has always been a scenic place to unwind and feed the ducks and geese.

Word someone had been stabbed in the park worried visitors like Carissa Eppley. Eppley explained, "I wouldn't imagine that happening, especially in this area of town. It's really scary because this is such a popular place in Fresno."

Thomas Ricci was arrested for stabbing the 28-year-old victim with a pocket knife. It happened before 8 p.m. after the park was closed.

Police said the two homeless men were fighting over a shopping cart and a blanket.

A day after the incident, we found a group of homeless people gathered at one of the park's picnic areas. They did not want to talk on camera but did say it's a good place to keep warm during the day.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin was aware some homeless people end up along the Freeway 41 corridor. She said visitors though shouldn't stop enjoying the park.

Swearengin said, "It's really an unfortunate incident but if you look at the history of Woodward Park it is one of our safest places in all of Fresno and frankly that incident could have happened anywhere in our city."

Jeff Winter often fishes the park ponds and never knew homeless people were drawn to Woodward. Winter said, "Not at all. In fact, I'm surprised to hear that because I never see any homeless people out here."

For people who like to take walks and enjoy the outdoors, the stabbing incident was enough for people like Therese Valdez to change their habits. She said, "Well yeah because I come out here for a run by myself. Well, with my dog who's tiny so that's not too comforting."

Kimberly Mondientz added, "That scares me actually. I wouldn't come here after dark and I would only come here with friends or people I know. I wouldn't come here alone."

Visitors said the incident will make them more aware of their surroundings but they won't stop coming to Woodward Park.

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