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‘I think my hat saved my life’: Victim of random machete attack in Vancouver speaks

Click to play video 'Vancouver Police seek more victims of News Year’s Eve machete attacker' Vancouver Police seek more victims of News Year’s Eve machete attacker
Vancouver Police seek more victims of News Year's Eve machete attacker – Jan 6, 2021

The victim of a random machete attack in downtown Vancouver on New Year’s Eve says he feels lucky to have escaped alive.

William Johnson, 52, told Global News he was hit over the head with a machete outside the Blenz coffee shop near Granville and Nelson streets around 7 p.m.

Click to play video 'Man charged in two NYE machete attacks in Vancouver' Man charged in two NYE machete attacks in Vancouver
Man charged in two NYE machete attacks in Vancouver – Jan 6, 2021

He said he didn’t know the attacker, but had approached him asking for his speaker.

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When he refused, Johnson said he turned to go, and that’s when he was hit with the weapon.

Read more: Man charged in separate machete attacks in Vancouver on New Year’s Eve

“After he hit me in the head, I thought I was going to go down, but I didn’t,” he told Global News.

“I thought he was chasing me, so I ran into the Fresh Donair shop and I asked (the employee) to call me an ambulance and the cops. Next thing you know, I was still bleeding out.”

Johnson ended up needing four stitches and said he thinks it would have been much worse if he hadn’t been wearing a hat.

“I had a bear hat with ears and a little hat and he went through the seams. So I think my hat pretty much saved my life.”

Police have learned about at least two other victims since the initial attack.

Read more: Man charged in random New Year’s Eve machete attack in Vancouver

A 26-year-old homeless man suffered facial injuries about an hour earlier at the same location, while a 29-year-old homeless man escaped serious harm when he was assaulted outside the Canadian Tire at Cambie Street and 7th Avenue around 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

It is unclear if the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve incidents are connected.

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Cruz Joseph, 33, has been charged with two counts of assault with a weapon, two counts of assault bodily harm, robbery, and possession of a dangerous weapon in connection with the Dec. 31 incidents.

The Dec. 24 assault remains under investigation, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.