Washington County man accused in North Belle Vernon bar stabbing
Three people were stabbed at a North Belle Vernon bar this month after an off-hand comment was made about a man’s recent release from prison, according to court documents.
On Wednesday, Westmoreland County Detective Randy Gardner and borough police Lt. Ronald VanScyoc obtained an arrest warrant for Eric D. Cook, 43, of Donora, on three counts each of attempted homicide and simple assault and four counts of aggravated assault.
The victims, a woman and two men, were taken to area hospitals after the stabbing at 1:30 a.m. March 7 inside Just A Tavern on Broad Avenue. The woman and one man were taken by medical helicopter to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment, while the second man was taken by ambulance to AHN Forbes Hospital in Monroeville.
Gardner said the woman told police in an interview that she and her two male friends “were relaxing at the bar and having a few drinks” when Cook approached her to “exchange pleasantries.” Cook and the woman had attended school together, according to Gardner.
Gardner reported that Cook told the trio that he had just been released from prison after serving time for a felony conviction when one of the victims “jokingly stated, ‘I wouldn’t put that on my resume.’”
“Cook started digging in his pocket and (the female) victim asked him what he was digging for. She stated that her friend then suddenly pushed (Cook) away and (Cook) then lunged at them. She stated she felt a warm feeling and looked down and realized she was bleeding,” Gardner wrote.
The victim reported she saw Cook’s arm “flailing around” and heard Cook cursing and calling them “redneck cracker (expletive).”
Gardner and VanScyoc also spoke with the two male victims, who corroborated the female’s story.
One of the male victims told police that he initially didn’t realize he had been stabbed, but “blood was everywhere in the bar.”
After he was driven back to his nearby hotel after speaking with police, “his boot started squishing and he realized he had been stabbed.”
“The victim stated he went to the hospital and ended up with 15 staples in his side and a stab wound three inches from his heart. He stated that, ‘(Cook) sure knows how to use a knife,’” police wrote in court papers.
Another patron in the bar said she saw Cook display a knife earlier, and she told him to put it away.
“She stated a few minutes later, all hell broke loose,” according to the complaint.
The patron provided investigators with a stub from a charity raffle ticket Cook had purchased that night. Gardner said Cook wrote his name and phone number on the stub, which assisted investigators.
In 2011, Cook pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to distributing more than 50 grams of crack cocaine following an investigation by state police and the FBI. He was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison, according to federal court dockets.
Authorities are still looking for Cook.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .