JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville man charged in the stabbing death of a Chicago Bears fan at an Irish pub at the Jacksonville Landing early Sunday morning "calmly and cold-bloodedly cut the victim's throat," then walked away, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Police said 27-year-old Matthew Hinson (pictured below) was with his wife at Fionn MacCool's Irish Restaurant and Pub when he saw his wife talking with 42-year-old William Pettry, of Lake Vella, Ill., and his friend.
"At this point, we don't know what words were exchanged because it was just the victim and the suspect sitting on a bench inside the bar, and a witness just said that he stood up, cut him and then basically just walked out," JSO Lt. Rob Schoonover said.
Police said Hinson placed a bloody knife in his pocket, calmly walked out and drove his truck by himself out of the parking lot. Officers caught him a few blocks away. They said he resisted arrest, which is why he has abrasions on his face in his mug shot. Hinson was eventually taken into custody.
Investigators said he admitted to the stabbing using a pocket knife, but said he didn't remember why he did it.
Hinson is being held in the Duval County jail on a murder charge and was ordered held without bail.
Police said Pettry, a husband and father of three, was in town to attend Sunday's Jaguars-Bears game.
"He was so happy, he posted on Facebook, 'I'm off to see the Bears play,'" said Lillie Asbury, Pettry's aunt.
Asbury said she's still shocked after hearing her nephew was killed. On her table sit pictures of Pettry smiling alongside his wife, his mother and his sister. Asbury said Pettry never caused any trouble.
Pettry's wife, Karen Pettry, posted her husband's photo (left) and a message on her Facebook page. She wrote, in part: "I'm so numb and I still cannot believe it is true. [My husband] was taken from his family way too early. Some idiot has taken his life. I'm so mad, just don't understand why, very lost right now. Please hug the ones you love because you never know if tomorrow you will have that chance."
Channel 4's Vic Micolucci spoke with a witness, who asked to remain unidentified, and said she was at the bar early Sunday morning when Pettry was killed. She said her friends, who are nurses, stepped in to help, but were not able to help him in time.
"I didn't think he was going to make it by the way he looked," the witness said. "A person who was standing next to the victim said that he just turned around and all of the sudden there was just blood gushing from the victim's neck. So it seems like people didn't understand what was going on. It was really quick."
No one answered the door at Hinson's home Monday. His neighbors said they were shocked to see him on TV charged with murder.
"Stand up guy, veteran, served in the Navy just like I did, so we had a little bit of common ground," neighbor William Walker said. "I'm completely shocked."
"He was easy going, yeah," neighbor Dawn Alderson added. "He was never short with me, never rude, kind, always waved hi on his way to work."
According to police and Hinson's Facebook page, he worked as a chef at the Hyatt Hotel, where many Bears fans stayed this weekend.
This is the second incident in just a few months that began at the Landing. Over the summer, a man sustained injuries that caused his death in a parking lot after a fight ensued outside of Maverick's bar.
This latest death has been emotionally exhausting for employees at Fionn MacCool's, where the manager who was working Saturday night said members of his staff have asked for counseling.
"We're a family restaurant," said Fionn MacCool's Manager Paul Glaser. "Things like this don't happen to us, it's so unreal."
Glaser said the recent crime is very unusual and despite the recent rash of violence downtown, Glaser thinks the Landing is a safe place at night.
"It's been a super safe location," said Glaser. "The landing to me has been one of safest places in this city. I managed at the beach for 7 years, saw a lot of craziness all over the beach."
Jasmine Hicks is a waitress at the Landing, and when she gets off work at night she's escorted to her car by a police officer, but she said not everyone has that luxury.
"Do you think in general this is a safe place to be?" Channel 4 asked.
"No, depending on what age range, most people wouldn't know how to handle themselves and quickly go for violence," said Hicks.
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