On Thursday 22 May 2014, one of the workers said “there’s a lady with a knife over behind the glass bin.” The senior most team member, nominally the person-in-charge (PIC), looked out from the warehouse. We saw nothing. He went back in to the office to continue paying out. Curious and concerned, I crossed the lanes until I could see the area behind the bins. Sure enough there was a woman with a knife in her hand sort of wandering about in the corner who appeared to be having a conversation with herself. I went back in to the warehouse and to the office. “There is a woman holding a knife over behind the glass bin outside the fence,” I said to the PIC. We both went out and looked. The woman appeared to have left; then, I noticed her crouching down facing into the corner of the fencing. She kind of blended in with the debris back there. I pointed her out to the PIC, but we couldn’t see the knife from the way she was crouched.
Eventually, she wandered onto our site as she came closer the knife was obvious. In Stockton, apparently, people don’t react to these kinds of situations as the customers went about their business without reacting to her. At that point, the PIC was made aware of her change of state from property adjacent to present. She was wandering aimlessly about, approaching customers, and muttering unintelligibly. The PIC went outside got her attention, informed her that she couldn’t be on the property with the knife, and further informed her that if she didn’t leave the police would be notified. She continued to wander about. At no point was she threatening; in fact, she carried the knife as if unaware of it as a knife like it was a stick, piece of paper, or other mundane object.
She wandered over to the customer window, waiting as if in line. She came up to the window holding out lottery scratchers, speaking so softly as to be unintelligible. The PIC was on the phone to the police reporting her. He continued, between answering questions on the phone, to inform her that he was on the phone with the police. She behaved as if she didn’t understand him and continued holding out the scratchers and muttering into the window.
During all of this business continues in the warehouse as if nothing unusual was occurring. After a few minutes, she leaves the window and begins randomly moving toward the sidewalk. I go outside where I can see which direction she is heading after passing through our gate. I return to the office, informing the PIC who’s still on the phone with the police that she is heading east on Fremont St. I then head out the back of the warehouse to see if I can track her progress down the street in order to aid the police in detaining her. As I approach the point where I can see the street. I see a police cruiser blocking the sidewalk from the east and a police SUV blocking the westbound lane and up on the curb. I hear what I assume to be an officer speaking to her.
I go back into the warehouse office to let the PIC know that the police have stopped her. He informs the person on the phone with him and hangs up.
I can only hope given the sad state of mental healthcare in the US and especially California that this woman received the help she so obviously needed. At no point during this incident was anyone threatened. It was as if the knife in her hand was non-existent to her. She just held it nothing more.