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‘Almost Didn't Make It': Survivor Recounts Attack by Man Accused in 2 El Sereno Stabbings

A man who survived a stabbing in El Sereno is speaking out for the first time and describing the horrifying encounter with a man who police say killed a teen hours earlier in a similar attack.

Danny Villalobos, 32, was stabbed March 3 outside Valley Food Liquor, just five hours after and 1.6 miles away from another stabbing that left a 17-year-old Xavier Chavarin dead. Villalobos struggle with the suspect but has not yet fully recovered from what he said were six stab wounds — three to the stomach, two to the chest and one to the back.

“My body’s not the same. I have pains and my body’s working way different than how it used to be,” he told NBC4 during an interview at his home.

Villalobos said he works a job in which he’s sometimes called out late at night. The night he was attacked, he had finished eating dinner with his family when he was called out.

“I always have to kiss my kids before I go and my wife and tell them, ‘I’ll be back. Go to sleep. I may be late,’ but I didn’t know that was going to happen. I almost didn’t make it,” he recalled.

That night, he recalled, he was getting his things ready in front of his truck near Valley Food Liquor. The truck was on and he was about to hop in when he heard footsteps behind him. Villalobos turned around, but that’s when the attacker — identified by police as 32-year-old David Anthony Zapata — stabbed him in the stomach.

Villalobos said he and Zapata struggled, during which time Zapata continued stabbing him. Eventually, Villalobos’ legs gave out from all the blood loss. As Zapata came at him again, Villalobos said he was able to use his legs to push him away.

That’s when Villalobos said he ran toward the liquor store, dropping his cellphone in the process. Zapata ran away, which is when Villalobos went back to retrieve his phone and call his wife to tell her he’d just been stabbed. She then called 911 as her husband ran back to the liquor store.

“And then I run again to the liquor store and I try to get my blood inside of me,” he said. Villalobos continued trying to stem the blood flow until an ambulance arrived and rushed him to the hospital, where he said he was in surgery for six to seven hours.

He spent four days in the hospital before being released.

“I feel that I was dead and away … I don’t know how I’m alive,” Villalobos said.

Hours before stabbing Villalobos, police said Zapata stabbed Xavier Chavarin, a student at Woodrow Wilson High School. Xavier waiting for his mother outside a restaurant in the community east of downtown Los Angeles when he was stabbed from behind. Surveillance video showed the attacker walk up to the teen victim and begin stabbing him.

Villalobos said he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Xavier and his family.

“That’s really sad. I feel bad for that kid [who] didn’t have the same opportunity as I did. I send my condolences to the family, and God give them everything that they need, the support that they need. I know it’s not easy,” he said.

Zapata was charged with murder and attempted murder in the attacks that investigators said appear to be random.

“These were senseless attacks,” said LAPD Lt. Ryan Rabbett. “No confrontation, no words exchanged. Really just spontaneous and brutal.”

Police have said there is no known relationship between the victims and attacker and that there is no evidence to suggest the crimes were committed during a robbery attempt. No motives have been identified.

Rabbett said police are still looking for a second suspect, since someone drove Zapata away after he had stabbed Xavier.

Villalobos’s wounds are still healing and his arms are still heavily bruised from the struggle with Zapata. He hasn’t been able to return to work. In the meantime, hospital and other bills are adding up.

He has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the expenses while he’s recovering.

“It’s just tough, but I’m really happy to be alive and I know I’m going to go through everything,” he said.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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