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Tip leads Bend police to downtown stabbing suspect; they later also find victim

Deschutes County Jail
Brian Christopher Blanton
MG& Tavern Bend stabbing car Bend PD 88
Bend Police Dept.
Bend police had issued security-camera photos of stabbing suspect's SUV

(Update: More details on what transpired from alleged victim)

Police say 2 men were playing video poker back to back, no sign of interaction

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Thanks to an observant outlet store worker, a 42-year-old Bend man was arrested Sunday on assault and other charges in the stabbing of a fellow M&J Tavern video poker player, shortly after both men left there Saturday afternoon. The victim was contacted later Sunday.

Police had released photos of a suspect’s vehicle late Saturday as they tried to identify and contact both the alleged assailant and the victim, both of whom had left the scene. The victim had first returned to the bar to say he’d been stabbed, but asked the bartender not to call 911, then fled.

Around 11:10 a.m. Sunday, an employee at the Bend Factory Outlet Stores on South Highway 97 called Deschutes County dispatchers to report seeing the black 2019 Nissan Armada SUV, recognizing it from the late Saturday news release and media reports, Sgt. Tommy Russell said.

The caller said she saw a man sitting in the SUV, but when police arrived, no one was inside it, Russell said.

A few minutes later, the suspect, identified as Brian Christopher Blanton, approached officers to ask why they were around his car. Russell said the original investigating officer recognized Blanton from his review of the tavern’s surveillance video – and in fact was wearing the same clothing as the video of the stabbing showed.

Blanton was taken into custody and booked into the county jail on charges of second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon, with initial bail set at $60,000.

Online court records show Blanton was charged late last month with menacing and unlawful use of a weapon, a knife, in a July 10 incident. He's due for arraignment on those charges on Sept. 9.

Russell said a possible victim was identified through the police interview of the suspect.

Police later Sunday said the victim was a 35-year-old Bend man, who was contacted, interviewed and cooperated with investigators. Russell said the man refused medical treatment, although his injury likely needed stitches.

The victim said he left the tavern to return to his car, parked along Greenwood Avenue.

As he approached his car, he said he saw Blanton slashing one of the tires, Russell said. He said he verbally confronted Blanton, who ran at him, kicked him in the chest and cut his upper left arm with a folding pocket knife.

"The victim recognized Blanton, whom he has known for many years," Russell said in his update late Sunday night.

Blanton walked away and the victim returned to the tavern to get some paper towels to stop the bleeding on his arm. The sergeant said the victim had no explanation as to why Blanton would slash his tire. Blanton now also is charged with second-degree criminal mischief as a result, Russell said.

The sergeant thanked the media for posting the story, the public for keeping an eye out for the car and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office for its assistance in the arrest of Blanton.

Police had responded around 5:15 p.m. Saturday to the area near the tavern on Greenwood Avenue on the report of a stabbing about an hour earlier, Russell said late Saturday.

The bartender said a customer had re-entered the business and said he’d just been stabbed by another man, Russell said. The bartender said she was going to call 911, but the victim asked her not to call police.

M&J General Manager C.J. Hitchcock told NewsChannel 21 on Sunday she contacted police as soon as security camera evidence was collected, since the customer had left the scene.

The bartender told police she saw evidence of the injury and provided some paper towels to the victim to place on the wound.

Officers reviewed surveillance video provided by the tavern and learned the suspect arrived alone in a black 2019 Nissan Armada with black rims and with no license plate displayed on the front or rear, the sergeant said. The victim had arrived on foot.

The two men had been in the tavern’s video poker area before the stabbing, but security video from the area gave no indication that they had talked with each other, so it’s unknown what prompted the attack.

"It’s one of the many indications that are so baffling: They literally sat back to back, playing video poker for minutes on end, with no talk or interaction," Russell said.

 As the two men walked outside, the suspect stabbed the victim on a nearby sidewalk, he said. Surveillance video showed the crime and that the victim was stabbed in the upper arm.

The suspect discarded the standard folding knife near the crime scene, Russell said, and it was recovered by police.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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