Lawrence man arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder; victim was walking from campsite during ‘unprovoked attack,’ police say
photo by: Kansas Department of Corrections
Updated at 3:41 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11
A Lawrence man was arrested early Friday morning on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder after he allegedly stabbed another man in the neck.
The man, Tristen Lemont Hollins, 41, was booked into the Douglas County Jail around 5 a.m., according to the booking log. He was charged with the crime later Friday in Douglas County District Court.
According to Lawrence police, the case involved a stabbing around 1 a.m. Friday. They said the victim is expected to recover.
Witnesses near North Second and Locust streets called 911 after observing a person “yelling for help while holding his neck,” police said in a social media post. Police said they were able to get some information from the stabbing victim before he was taken to a hospital. They believe the crime happened in the 500 block of North Second Street — near the city-supported camp for homeless people — “while the victim was walking from his campsite to the gas station when he was approached from behind in an unprovoked attack.” LPD spokesperson Laura McCabe said that the victim was not staying at the city-run camp, but the Journal-World has learned that the victim was living at the adjacent unsanctioned site.
She said the attack happened in one of the pedestrian tunnels underneath the railroad bridge crossing North Second Street.
photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World
Officers arrested the suspect, Hollins, in the 600 block of Massachusetts Street just before 2 a.m.
Hollins has been recently associated with trespassing at the city-run support site for homeless people in North Lawrence. On July 30, a resident at the camp, Vance Swallow, was arrested on suspicion of, and later charged with, aggravated battery after he allegedly struck and seriously injured Hollins at the camp. Police said at the time that Hollins had been cited for trespassing at the camp and was not supposed to be there. Police found Hollins at the scene “with a significant amount of blood on him,” they said at the time, and arrested Swallow, who later told a Douglas County District Court judge that he was only defending people at the camp when Hollins was injured.
Hollins’ address on the jail booking log is listed as 3655 E. 25th St., which is the address of the Lawrence Community Shelter.
Hollins has a criminal record in Sedgwick County, including convictions for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, felony battery on a law enforcement officer, misdemeanor theft and misdemeanor domestic battery. He also has served time in Larned State Security Hospital for psychiatric treatment associated with his battery on a law enforcement officer.
Hollins appeared Friday afternoon in Douglas County District Court, where Judge James McCabria set his bond at $1 million cash or surety, as requested by Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden, who said Hollins had no ties to Douglas County and only recently came to Lawrence from Sedgwick County. Seiden also noted that Hollins has two person felonies in his criminal history and had been released from Kansas Department of Corrections custody less than three months ago, on May 24.
Hollins told McCabria that he had difficulty understanding the criminal complaint, and he asked several times to get a mental health evaluation.
“I’m very concerned because it’s incorrect,” Hollins said of the charge against him. “I would like to ask for a mental health evaluation.”
McCabria appointed attorney Michael Clarke to represent Hollins and said Clarke would look into the matter of a mental health evaluation. Hollins’ next court date is Tuesday.
Victim in hospital
photo by: Contributed
Jenn Wolsey, a former homeless programs coordinator for the City of Lawrence, said she visited the victim, Bryan Griffin, 45, in a Topeka hospital Friday morning. She described two stab wounds on his neck and said he was in stable condition with no major surgery planned, according to doctors she spoke with.
Wolsey said Griffin, known in the community as Queen, had lived in Lawrence for many years and was known around downtown for singing. He has been living at the unsanctioned camp next to the city-supported camp.
Wolsey said the incident and others like it highlighted a problem she had been seeing with houseless individuals coming from other cities and states to Lawrence, which she believes has inadequate intake services for such individuals.
“Not one city can handle the houseless from the entire state,” Wolsey told the Journal-World.
The situation, she said, was “creating a danger” for Lawrence’s houseless individuals.
“We cannot do a good job if every day people are being sent to Lawrence,” Wolsey said. “Without adequate support for the people here, we cannot hope to help those who are arriving.”