The owner of Jabali in Fells Point was attacked from behind and stabbed multiple times Sunday night about a block from his Southeast Baltimore coffee shop, he confirmed Monday.
Alex Dominguez, 56, said he was discharged from Johns Hopkins Hospital about 3 a.m. Monday after being wounded — including "pretty severely in the cheek" — in an unprovoked attack near the intersection of South Bond and Shakespeare streets about 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
"I felt like this thunk on the top of my head, and I thought, 'Oh, someone's playing with me.' So I spun around and this guy was punching at me," said Dominguez, a former reporter who often covered Baltimore violence during a 25-year career here with the Associated Press. "I said, 'What are you doing?' And I went to punch him back, and I forced him up against the car, and he kept what I thought was punching at me. And then I finally realized he had a knife in his hand."
Lt. Nicholas Edwards, a police spokesman, confirmed police responded to a cutting about 8:35 p.m. at the intersection and transported Dominguez to the hospital. Police said no arrest had been made.
Dominguez said he "lost a lot of blood" after being cut on the right cheek, the top of the head, the tops of his shoulders, behind his neck and in the upper left thigh. He is also sore all over from his struggle with his attacker, he said.
"When you're in a life-and-death struggle, you get a little sore from using all the muscles that you don't normally use when you're not in a life-and-death struggle," he said.
Dominguez is a familiar face in Fells Point. After leaving the Associated Press in 2013, he opened Jabali on South Bond, about a block north of where he was stabbed.
He said he had gone out to dinner with a friend Sunday night, then decided to walk with a small cooler and get some ice from the nearby 7-Eleven for his shop the next morning.
After spinning around and realizing his attacker had a knife, he said he managed to wrestle it from the man — who he believes may have been mentally ill — and threw it down the street.
"I didn't realize I was injured at this point. I didn't even feel pain," he said.
As he struggled to restrain the man until the police arrived, a bystander came over and urged him to let go.
"He said, 'Dude, you gotta let him go. You're bleeding. You might die. You have to stop struggling,' " Dominguez said. "I said, 'No, I have to hold him for the police.' Then I looked down and there was blood all over me."
When he let the man go, "the guy just walked away slowly," Dominguez said. "It was the weirdest thing."
He said police arrived quickly, and "it seemed to me like in five minutes, the ambulance showed up and I was put in the ambulance and was off to Hopkins."
There, a plastic surgeon sewed up the "U-shaped dueling scar" on his cheek, he said.
He said he was amazed at how fast word spread about his attack.
When he got his phone back from police, who had pulled it from his bloodied pants, it was full of messages from concerned friends, he said.
Dominguez said he wonders whether the attack had something to do with his confronting a homeless couple he observed the day before stealing an Amazon package off a porch. Or maybe, he said, it had to do with his exchanging words with another resident he said was dealing drugs in the neighborhood.
"When someone attacks you from behind and all the sudden you're fending off a knife attack? … I'm not really great at remembering faces," he said.
Dominguez said Jabali was closed on Monday, but he hopes to reopen soon.
"Maybe I won't make cappuccinos," he said, citing his soreness and the extra effort it takes to lift his arms. "But I'm sure I can sit around and make a couple pots of coffee and tell this story ad nauseam."