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Police: Evansville man taken into custody after stabbing firefighter in the face

Published: Jun. 12, 2021 at 7:07 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 12, 2021 at 7:18 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Evansville police arrested a man after officers say he stabbed a firefighter in the face on Saturday afternoon.

According to the Evansville Police Department, authorities were sent to a home on the 4800 block of Ridge Knoll Drive in response to a report of a man not breathing. The Evansville Fire Department was the first agency on scene.

When EFD crews arrived, police say firefighters heard a “very disturbing scream” from inside the home.

“Once the firemen arrived on the scene, as they approached the front door, they heard screaming from inside. Obviously, they knew somebody wasn’t breathing so they wanted to check the welfare of the occupants inside the house,” Sgt. Anna Gray with Evansville Police Department said.

According to the affidavit, EFD crews responded by opening the interior door of the home and announcing their presence. Afterward, police say a man with a large kitchen knife stabbed a firefighter in the face near his nose.

Officials say the man, later identified as John Deer, then charged out the door towards the firefighter in an attempt to stab him again, but the firefighter was able to dodge the knife and wrestle the man to the ground. Police say the rest of the crew assisted with subduing the man until police arrived.

“The two firefighters that were in the front, fortunately, they’re somewhat familiar with some hand to hand combat because they are former military,” Division Chief Mike Larson of Evansville Fire Department said. “So they pretty quickly reacted very appropriately and quickly got the individual on the ground and held him for a couple of minutes until EPD could get on scene.”

After officers arrived, police were able to take Deer into custody without incident.

According to the affidavit, a large butcher-style kitchen knife was recovered at the scene.

Police say Deer’s girlfriend told detectives that she administered two doses of Narcan to him because he was blue and was not responding to CPR.

The affidavit also shows that Deer’s girlfriend told officers he did not use any narcotics. Officers say when Deer responded to the Narcan, he was “very combative” and attacked his girlfriend and his 86-year-old grandfather. Both told police they do not want to file charges.

“It doesn’t happen necessarily all the time, but we have seen sometimes where a Narcan has been used on someone. When they come to, they’re still under the influence so it just kind of depends how their body is reacting from a drug,” Sgt. Gray explained.

Police say when the suspect was being transported to the ambulance, Deer stated he was not sure what had happened. He was taken to Deaconess before getting sent to the Vanderburgh County Corrections Center.

Deer is facing one count of battery, which is a Level 5 charge.

“This isn’t the response we get. So, unfortunately, somebody could pay the price because our firefighters have to be more cautious now as we approach homes thinking that we’re going to help them, but now because of this particular instance and the instances happening across the country, our firefighters are going to have to approach the doors more cautiously,” Chief Larson said.

Fire officials say the firefighter suffered a stab wound just below his left eye and returned to work the same day after an emergency room visit.

According to EPD, the firefighter involved is planning on pressing charges against Deer.

John Deer
John Deer(Evansville Police)

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