2 hearing-impaired patrons stabbed at bar
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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- Two hearing-impaired men are recovering after, according to police, their means of communication was mistaken for gang signs.
The incident occurred at the Ocean's Eleven Lounge, located at 800 N. Federal Highway, early Saturday morning.
Thirty-one-year-old Alfred Stewart of Miramar went to the lounge to celebrate a friend's birthday. For Stewart, who is deaf and mute, sign language is his only mode of communication. "Only sign language. That's the only way all of them, they do sign language," said Stewart's mother, Brenda Stewart.
According to Hallandale Beach Police, 45-year-old Barbara Lee confronted Stewart and his friends, because she thought they were throwing gang signs at her. Lee threw up gang signs at the victims, who motioned for Lee to leave them alone.
The police report said Lee left the bar but returned with a juvenile and 19-year-old Marco Ibanez, who allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed the victims. "The suspect obtained two other suspects, they came inside the bar and started fighting with our hearing-impaired victims," said Hallandale Beach Police Officer Sonia Quinones.
"They all were doing hand signs, and it went as if someone thought it was a gang sign," said Brenda Stewart, who was injured trying to help the victims. "He got stabbed, and the other one was cut up. His friend got cut, and he got stabbed. Another one of his friends was talking to the other guy, must have been trying to let the other guy know that it was just talk, and he tried to stop the other people from fighting, and the guy came from behind him and stabbed him, so he doesn't know who it was that stabbed him or nothing. Stabbed him in his back."
Four people, including Stewart, one of his friends and a bouncer at the lounge, were taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood with other injuries. Quinones said, "We have two victims that were stabbed with a knife in the torso area, non-life-threatening injuries. They were taken to the hospital. Another individual that was struck multiple times, one of the bouncers from the bar who attempted to intervene and was struck on the head with a bottle."
Lee, Ibanez and the juvenile suspect are currently in police custody.
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