Hotel worker claims self-defense after stabbing New York City firefighter


A River North hotel employee was defending himself when he stabbed a New York City firefighter multiple times earlier this week, the clerk’s defense attorney said on Saturday.

Cook County prosecutors and defense attorney Matthew Kaplan painted two very different images of the altercation that unfolded Thursday afternoon at the FOUND Hotel, 613 N. Wells St.

Joel Brown, who is charged with attempted murder, was behind the reception when the 29-year-old firefighter and two others attempted to enter a room the group said they had booked, prosecutors and Kaplan said at a hearing deposit.

Brown and a witness got into an argument when Brown was unable to give guests access to a room. The firefighter intervened and asked to speak to Brown.

Prosecutors allege Brown challenged the firefighter to a fight before the two went to a nearby kitchen to talk. Kaplan accused the firefighter of walking behind the front desk and dragging Brown into the kitchen.

The firefighter asked Brown to apologize to his fiancee, both parties said. Prosecutors said Brown hit the firefighter, although Kaplan claimed the firefighter struck first.

The fight escalated from there. The firefighter, who Kaplan said is “about a half a foot taller than my client and much taller in height and height,” allegedly pinned Brown to the ground. A witness kicked Brown and told him to stop, prosecutors said.

Brown ordered the group of firefighters out of the hotel, allegedly throwing their luggage at them. The firefighter returned the items to the hotel clerk, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors allege Brown grabbed a knife behind the desk and approached another person in the group. The firefighter came to the person’s defense and was stabbed six times on the left side of his body, authorities said.

But Kaplan claimed Brown grabbed the knife from a drawer behind the front desk when he was “on his back being beaten.”

Kaplan said Brown initially called 911 when the group of New Yorkers refused to leave. Brown called 911 a second time after the stabbing to dispatch paramedics.

Brown remained at the scene until the Chicago police arrived, both sides said. The firefighter was transported undamaged to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Kaplan said the self-defense claim was corroborated by a hotel video recording and a CBS 2 report that featured testimony.

Brown, a graduate of Kenwood Academy, is studying audio engineering at Columbia College, Kaplan said. He has been working at the FOUND Hotel for six months.

A judge set the bond at $ 75,000 for Brown. He is expected to return to court on September 27.

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