Denizens of the old-school Venice arts scene fought attacker with folding chairs

By Joe Piasecki

A 70-year-old peace activist and a small army of chair-wielding audience members helped a man fend off a frenzied knife attack during a concert on Saturday night at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice.

The intended victim and a woman who came to his aid suffered minor cuts but escaped without life-threatening injuries, and police later arrested the 25-year-old suspect a few blocks away, LAPD Det. Luz Glorioso said.

“It’s disturbing because the attack appeared to be random. The victim and the suspect did not know each other,” she said.

Witnesses say a round-edged kitchen knife used in the attack and recovered at the scene had been taken from a cheese platter in the venue’s lobby.

Singer-songwriter Suzy Williams, a fixture of Venice’s art and music scene, was enjoying a standing ovation on stage with her band when she saw “bedlam” break out in the 90-plus crowd — people running in all directions, a man charging toward the stage and a flurry of folding chairs flying toward him.

Venice filmmaker and photographer Pegarty Long saw the attacker’s primary target flailing his arms and kicking his feet in self-defense after falling to the ground, while several bystanders struck at the attacker with chairs.

“How much this guy was fighting [back] — I can’t get that image out of my mind,” she said.

Long also saw septuagenarian Ed Ferrer rush toward the fracas and pull the attacker to the ground.

“I was clapping away up front when I heard someone shout ‘He has a knife!’ … and I saw a man running across an aisle of seats with his hand outstretched like there was something in it,” said Ferrer, a Venice homeowner since the early 1970s. “The whole thing was very surreal.”

Ferrer fell down as he pushed forward and landed right at the feet of the knife-wielding man.

“People were coming toward this guy from three directions” to intervene, he said. “Once I saw his feet I thought, yeah, bring him down.”

Glorioso said the suspect, identified as Jeremy Solomon, has “an extensive rap sheet.”

Witnesses found what appeared to be a county-issued jail slipper at the scene. Glorioso could not confirm whether Solomon had recently gotten out of jail, and information on the L.A. County Sheriff’s online inmate information database was not clear.

Suzanne Thompson, a Beyond Baroque advisory board member, said the attacker had a strong body odor and was “checking out the audience like he was looking for somebody” during the concert.

Glorioso said prosecutors have filed two attempted murder charges against Solomon — one for the intended victim, the other for a woman who incurred a cut on her hand while trying to intervene.

“The suspect for whatever reason decided to stab the [primary] victim, and the second victim picks up her folding chair [to fight the attacker], she falls, and he tries to stab her also,” she explained.

Glorioso believes the intervention of bystanders “absolutely” helped to prevent more serious injuries.

“It speaks well for artists,” Long said.

PHOTOS: Witnesses protected evidence, including the knife, until police arrived. Photos by Pegarty Long.