Crime - Sacto 911

Man, foaming at mouth, attacked them, fellow restaurant workers say

Princeton Melliza, 23
Princeton Melliza, 23 Photo Courtesy: Sacramento Police Department

Lunch service at upscale eatery Hawks Provisions and Public House, on Alhambra Boulevard in East Sacramento, was cut short Monday when a dishwasher allegedly attacked two co-workers with a bicycle lock in the kitchen.

The dishwasher, whom police identified as Princeton Melliza, 23, was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on Monday night, facing a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon and bail set at $50,000. Police said Melliza’s attack on his co-workers was unprovoked and that he appeared to be under the influence of narcotics.

Co-workers described Melliza, who had started at the restaurant three weeks prior to the incident, as a quiet and polite person. James Pryde, a cook who saw the aftermath of the incident, said Melliza’s face appeared to be a shade of gray and that Melliza had foam coming out of his mouth.

“He had blood all over his shirt and he was crying,” Pryde said. “I’ve never seen somebody that color. It was an unearthly gray.”

Esra Oktar, a general manager at the restaurant, was at home at lunchtime but talked to employees soon afterward and provided details about the incident. She said she had noticed Melliza sometimes looked pale at work and had asked him during one shift if he needed medical attention.

“He was such a good kid, but you could tell he had a tough life,” she said.

Monday’s incident happened about 1 p.m., when Melliza reportedly asked a server at the restaurant to help him carry wood inside from the dumpster at the back of the building, according to Oktar.

The server, whom the manager identified as Danny Shapiro, walked outside with Melliza. The dishwasher punched Shapiro in the face repeatedly until Shapiro got him in a chokehold, she said.

Oktar said the server ran inside and told a chef at the restaurant about the fight. A floor manager, who overheard the men talking in the kitchen, approached them to find out what was going on, she said.

When Melliza entered the kitchen, the three workers attempted to fend him off, with the cook wielding a pan to block Melliza from getting close, Oktar said employees told her.

Melliza responded by pulling a long bike lock out of his pocket and began using it as a weapon. The three men were eventually able to hold Melliza down until police arrived, she said.

Shapiro and the floor manager were sent to a hospital following the assault, Oktar said. Shapiro had injuries to his wrist and the back of his head, and was having trouble closing his jaw, she said. Oktar said she saw a gash 2 inches wide on the side of the floor manager’s head following the incident.

“It was pretty gnarly,” she said. “Blood kept coming out.”

Both Oktar and Pryde said that there hadn’t appeared to be any prior conflicts or bad blood between Melliza and the his co-workers.

“For me, working in the kitchen, it’s like working with my family,” Pryde said. “For this to happen, it’s so shocking.”

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets