Father Stabbed to Death as Daughter Sits in His Lap at Restaurant

A homeless man in California is charged with murder after stabbing a father who was dining at a restaurant with his 5-year-old daughter on his lap.

Currently held in a Ventura County jail on $1.5 million bail and believed by authorities to be a "random attack," Jamal Jackson, 49, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 35-year-old Anthony Mele. If convicted, Jackson will face up to 55 years in prison.

CBS News reports Mele was stabbed in the neck while his 5-year-old daughter sat in his lap as the two dined in a crowded beachside steakhouse. Mele and his wife were eating dinner with their daughter at the Aloha Steakhouse in Ventura when Jackson walked up and stabbed him in the neck.

Mele was taken to a hospital, and died Thursday after he was taken off life support.

Prosecutor Richard Simon told CBS News that "patrons and a restaurant employee followed Jackson out of the restaurant, even though he still had the knife," adding that they kept track of him until authorities arrived to arrest him.

"It's horrible," Simon said. "You don't think you're going to be killed when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your family and you didn't do anything."

The prosecutor goes on to state that the two men have never interacted before the attack, stating it was just a casual family dinner.

"He was just sitting there with his daughter in his lap," Simon said. "You're not supposed to die that way."

Mele's family and loved ones have started a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise money for funeral costs and support his now widowed wife and daughter. In the two days since the fund opened, the family has raised more than $80,000 out of their $100,000 goal.

The random attack has prompted the Ventura City Council to boost police patrols in the area, in addition to adding staff members to monitor security cameras.

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Mayor Neal Andrews said in a statement that the community was "extremely disheartened and infuriated by the criminal attack."

"We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses," he said.