Police shoot man accused of brutal hatchet attack on elderly man, had a long history of criminal violence

News & Politics

Washington state police released body camera video from two officers who shot a man accused of a brutal attack of an elderly man with a hatchet.

The attack was recorded on surveillance videos at Town Square Park in Federal Way in December.

Videos show a man with a hatchet in hand sneaking up behind the 71-year-old man and starting to swing at him. The victim suffered serious injuries to his head, face, and chest. Police said the attack was completely unprovoked, and the attacker kept swinging at the victim after he fell on the ground.

The attacker was able to flee the scene, and the victim was transported to Harborview Medical Center.

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Doctors initially believed there was a chance that the victim could die from the injuries, but he is listed in good condition three months after the attack.

The next day, police encountered the suspect, identified as 30-year-old Paleti Anikesi Veniale, and chased him while shouting commands.

Video showed Veniale run away as two officers chased him. One officer stumbled, and Veniale appeared to swing a knife above his head before the other officer opened fire and struck the suspect.

Veniale was treated for the shooting injuries and tested positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl.

The officer who shot Veniale in December had previously been attacked by him at a homeless encampment in 2020. Veniale jumped at the officer with a machete and a knife and was tasered before he was arrested in that incident.

Veniale was charged with first-degree attempted murder, and prosecutors cited his extensive history of criminal violence when they asked for bail of $1 million.

“The defendant’s escalating and unprovoked behavior is extremely disconcerting to the State,” said a King County prosecutor in court.

That bail request was granted, and Veniale remains in custody at the King County Jail.

Veniale has had 19 bench warrants since 2012 and has been arrested for assaulting firefighters, health care workers, police officers, and strangers. He had been released from custody only two days before the latest heinous hatchet attack.

“The defendant is unlikely to comply with future court orders,” wrote deputy prosecuting attorney Raymond Lee. “Furthermore, the defendant faces a standard range including the deadly weapon enhancement of approximately 19.5 to 25 years for this charge.”

Veniale’s next court hearing is scheduled for June.

Here’s the video of the shooting:

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