Key West is one small town, a recent arrest shows.
Police Officer Kuniko Keohane on Thursday checked some mug shots of wanted suspects and immediately knew the man accused of a 2011 parking-lot stabbing behind the Overseas Market shopping center, 2720 N. Roosevelt Blvd.
It was Juan Perez, 49, a homeless man she had spoken with as he worked outside the same shopping center where in 2011 police say he nearly killed another homeless man, Richard Roddy, who was then 56.
Keohane arrested Perez within two hours of seeing his mugshot, recalling she had spoken with him while he worked cleaning the parking lot of the same shopping plaza where he allegedly stuck a knife in Roddy’s chest and chased after him.
“I recognized the suspect as Juan Perez who I knew from contacts on the street,” Keohane wrote in the arrest report. “I went back to Overseas Market and found Perez sweeping up the parking lot.”
Perez had been arrested in 2011 but sent to a facility for the mentally ill, Key West police said, and later transferred to a low-level security lockup where he absconded.
“He still faces the original charge,” police spokeswoman Alyson Crean said.
Friday, Perez remained at the county jail on Stock Island on $500,000 bond. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder without premeditation and two felony counts of battery by a person detained in prison or jail, which Perez was arrested for in January 2012.
Perez has three prior convictions: Battery in 2002, aggravated battery in 2006 adn battery in 2010. But court records show he was never charged with attempted murder in court, only arrested. He spent March 22, 2006, through Jan. 16, 2009, in state prison.
On July 22, 2011, Perez allegedly plunged a knife into Roddy’s chest after throwing rocks at his head and missing.
Roddy turned to a woman who had called 911 to report a fight, pointed at the knife stuck in his chest, pulled it out and threw it to the ground, reports state. As Roddy started walking away, Perez grabbed the knife from the ground, waved it in the air and followed him.
Roddy was later found with two stab wounds to the chest.
Police followed a blood trail from Overseas Market to 10th Street and about a block away from the crime scene; Roddy was spotted bleeding from his chest at the edge of a canal. Roddy looked at police and then fell face down.
While Roddy was being treated for life-threatening wounds and airlifted to Miami, Perez said all the blood on his clothes was from him and that Roddy was “irritating” him.
Perez said Roddy was crazy and may have stabbed himself, “but he knew nothing about it,” according to the arrest affidavit. As for the witness who said Roddy was never the aggressor, Perez said “she needed to record the events on a computer because her eyes were not good enough.”
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen