Chase Bank stabbing suspect charged with attempted murder

The victim said he did not know why suspect Wayne Johnson stabbed him and had never seen Johnson before, police wrote in court papers.

Chase Bank stabbing suspect charged with attempted murder
Police investigate a stabbing outside a downtown Berkeley bank, Sept. 14, 2023. Ariel Nava Photo

A Berkeley stabbing suspect who fled to Georgia has now been charged with attempted murder after an unprovoked attack outside a Chase Bank branch last year, authorities say.

The victim, who was stabbed eight times, sustained fractured vertebrae, a broken jaw and other wounds, according to court papers.

The 58-year-old homeless man, who was bleeding profusely, was unable to call for help for 30 minutes because his cellphone was dead and he had to charge it, court papers show.

He has now undergone multiple surgeries and procedures to aid in his recovery, authorities say.

As of this week, suspect Wayne Johnson, 32, of Oakland is in local custody, booking records show. He is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

Police say the attack happened Sept. 14, 2023, just after 3:30 a.m. right outside Chase Bank at 2352 Shattuck Ave. (at Durant Avenue) in downtown Berkeley.

The incident was captured on surveillance video.

According to police, Johnson initially approached the victim and asked him for a cigarette.

The man said he only had hand-rolled cigarettes "from leftover tobacco found on the street."

Johnson left but came back two minutes later, police wrote.

He "pulled out an unknown weapon and stabbed the victim multiple times" from behind before fleeing on foot, according to Berkeley police. "The victim did not know why the suspect attacked him and has never seen the suspect before."

Surveillance video also showed Johnson appear to "circle and case the area of Chase Bank where the victim was prior to the attack."

Johnson "did not attempt to take anything from the victim," police wrote.

"After the stabbing, the victim realized that he had lost a lot of blood and needed to call 911 for help," police wrote. "He felt like he was going to die."

The victim, who had "sustained injuries and stab wounds to both biceps, left forearm, right cheek, three times in the back of the neck, and once in the right shoulder," was taken to Highland Hospital for treatment.

Authorities determined that he had been stabbed in the face, breaking his jaw, and multiple times in the back of the neck. A stab wound in his arm severed a nerve, police wrote.

Berkeley police were able to identify and locate suspect Wayne Johnson using cellphone data, license plate readers, surveillance footage and parking citations, among other records, investigators wrote.

Detectives sought a warrant for Johnson's arrest in mid-October and determined he had fled the state.

In mid-November, the Alameda County district attorney's office charged Johnson with attempted murder.

He was later arrested in Georgia and sent back to Alameda County to face the charges against him.

Johnson has one prior felony conviction in Alameda County, for attempted pimping in May 2017, court records show.

Wayne Johnson. BPD

According to court papers, he was originally charged with human trafficking and other crimes after making arrangements, according to police, to sell sexual services from a 17-year-old Nevada girl.

It turned out the girl was an undercover officer from the Oakland Police Department and Johnson was arrested at the airport when he went there thinking he was going to pick her up, court papers show.

He ultimately was convicted of attempted pimping, the result of a plea deal, and sent briefly to San Quentin State Prison.

Johnson is now scheduled for a plea hearing in the Berkeley case Jan. 31 at Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.

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