A man, pushed away for interfering in a medical call, yelled "I'm going to kill you all" before stabbing two firefighters in East Village, a deputy district attorney said.
Ryan Allen Jones, 34, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges stemming from Wednesday's violent incident. He is being held on a $750,000 bond for counts of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest.
As a San Diego Fire-Rescue crew responded to a medical call at the Park and Market trolley station Wednesday, Jones was told multiple times to move back so they could treat another person.
A fire captain tripped over Jones feet, and prosecutors say Jones became irate.
"Concerned for his safety and the safety of those around him, the captain pushed this defendant back over a concrete barrier," Deputy District Attorney Steven Schott told the court. "At this point, your honor, the defendant said, 'I will kill you all.'"
Schott said Jones attacked to Metropolitan Transit System officers, beginning a fight that was caught on surveillance video. After going over a rail, Jones started kicking firefighter Benjamin Vernon, 37.
"This firefighter can be seen starting to back up. He has his hands up," said Schott, "and this defendant takes out a knife."
With his folding knife, Jones is accused of stabbing Vernon twice in the back, causing a collapsed lung. When fellow firefighter Alex Wallbrett, 32, ran up to help Vernon, he was stabbed at least twice in the upper torso.
MTS officers jumped in the fray and pepper sprayed Jones, subduing him long enough to handcuff him. Wallbrett was released from the hospital Thursday, while Vernon was released Friday afternoon.
According to prosecutors, Jones has at least seven prior convictions, including a 2002 robbery and assault on a peace officer in Oakland.
In San Diego, he has a handful of loitering citations, as well as two charges for carrying a concealed weapon and a knife longer than two inches.
He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges.
Wednesday's stabbing shocked SDFD senior supervisors and captains, who were shaken to the point of tears, Fire Chief Javier Mainar said Thursday. Officials stressed how dangerous the job is for emergency crews across the city.
According to SDFD spokesman Lee Swanson, one of the firefighters who responded to this week's incident also worked to save the life of San Diego Police Officer Jeremy Henwood. Henwood was shot to death while sitting in his patrol car in a 2011 unprovoked attack.