Watertown man charged with homicide after stabbing man with sword

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by Chris Patterson

WATERTOWN -- Neighbors living above Yanger's Pub on Fourth Street in Watertown say 29-year-old Young Choi seemed angry at the world - always yelling at people and ranting about god and aliens.  But they never thought he'd take his anger out on them.

"I knew this was a guy who could be violent," David Gerard said.

Gerard was watching TV in his apartment Thursday afternoon when he heard his neighbor yelling in the hallway.

"He's always yelling angrily at anyone passing by or no one in particular," Gerard said.


Then, Gerard heard cries for help.  He went into the hall and saw Choi standing over another neighbor with a weapon in his hand.

"I guess it was a decorative sword, it was painted all black," Gerard said.  "I thought it was a stick or a rod and i reached for his hand, but he jerked it and cut me a little."

Gerard ran back into his room and called police.  They arrived soon after, cleared the building and found Choi on the second floor.  A negotiator was able to calm the man down and arrest him.

"I didn't really see the bad side of him until yesterday," Paul Groll said.

Groll lives just down the hall.  He heard the commotion, but didn't think twice about it until police forced him outside.  Groll says he saw the victim as paramedics brought him to the ambulance.

"When they finally brought him down he reached up, grabbed his wife's hand and he smiled and said, 'I'll be OK,'" Groll said.


Crews took the victim to the hospital, but the 27-year-old man, identified as Dustin Vanderheyden later died.

"Sad about it," Groll said.  "There's not really much anyone can do.  Except for the courts."

As for Gerard, who now has stitches around his thumb, he doesn't understand why no one else tried to help.

"I know, thinking back, I did everything I could and I was only involved in a minute of this man's life," Gerard said.  "But I still feel somewhat responsible."

Choi made his initial appearance in Jefferson County Court Friday.  Facing first degree intentional homicide, he's being held on $1 million cash bond.

According to a criminal complaint, Vanderheyden's wife reported some suspicious behavior from Choi before the stabbing.

She told investigators Choi was a new neighbor who made bizarre claims about being God and declaring everyone was evil.  She says Choi told her she should leave Vanderheyden and be with him, and threatened to stab him with a sword.

Vanderheyden's wife also told investigators she thought she convinced Choi not to take action.  Many neighbors believe Choi is mentally ill.

 

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