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Strip stabbing suspect believed to have entered US illegally, ICE says

Updated October 13, 2022 - 12:51 pm

The man accused of stabbing eight people on the Las Vegas Strip, killing two, is a Guatemalan citizen who entered the United States without going through a border inspection point, according to a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It means that Yoni Barrios, 32, is believed to have entered the country illegally.

Because of this, according to the ICE statement, it’s not clear when and where Barrios came into the U.S.

ICE also lodged an immigration detainer against Barrios, identifying him as Yony Cristian Barrios-Lopez, on Oct. 6, the day of the stabbing spree. The detainer means that ICE believes there is probable cause to deport Barrios.

The way the detainer works is that if Barrios is released from the custody of local or state authorities, the detainer is a formal request that Barrios be handed over to ICE, which would hold him in its custody while proceedings to deport Barrios start.

A federal immigration judge would decide if Barrios should be deported. ICE would carry out that decision.

Two days before the stabbing, Barrios approached a camera crew with L.A.’s Telemundo 52, asking for help and saying to the crew, who filmed him, that he had lost everything.

About 11:40 a.m. on Oct. 6, according to Las Vegas police and witness accounts, a man wielding a large kitchen knife went on a sudden rampage in front of Wynn Las Vegas, knifing three women posing as showgirls for photos. One of the three, Maris DiGiovanni, 30, was killed, and the two others, Anna Westby, 26, and Victoria Cayetano, 19, were wounded.

The man then kept running down Las Vegas Boulevard toward Sands Avenue, stabbing more people. He stabbed Brent Hallett, 47, a Canadian vacationer who was walking with his wife, Carmelita.

The stabbing happened so fast, Carmelita Hallett said, that all she saw was somebody run past them, and then her husband flinch and grab at his back. “I don’t think I’m going to make it,” he said, according to Carmelita Hallett.

Brent Hallett then collapsed and died at the scene.

Four other people were stabbed. Police, citing state law, redacted the names of the surviving victims. But two of the other victims are Maryland sisters Gabrielle “Gabby” Hewes and Cassandra “Cassy” Hewes, according to media reports and a GoFundMe created to help the Hewes sisters and their family with the costs incurred by the stabbings.

The names of the other two stabbing victims were not publicly known.

Barrios was arrested at the scene. Police found a bloody, 12-inch chef’s knife with a black handle at the scene, according to Barrios’ arrest report.

Cheryl Lowthorp, who owns Best Showgirls in Vegas, the company for which the three stabbed women work, said it’s obvious that Congress needs to address the country’s immigration system.

But Lowthorp also said other societal issues also deserve more attention. Among them, she cited the “glaringly obvious lack of funding” toward dealing with mental health issues in the U.S. and how the justice system can fail to protect women.

Barrios appeared in a Las Vegas court on Tuesday, when he was formally charged with two counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder.

His next court date is set for Jan. 12.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com or 561-324-6421. Follow @BrettClarkson_ on Twitter.

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