Deaf Man Stabbed After Sign Language Mistaken for Gang Signs

PHOTO: Robert Neal mugshot
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A deaf man in North Carolina, communicating to a friend via sign language, was stabbed multiple times after he was mistaken for flashing gang signs, police said.

Terrance Ervin Daniels, 45, was brutally attacked "in the upper body" with a kitchen knife on Jan. 9 in Burlington, N.C., while he and another deaf friend were signing to each other while walking down the street.

Suspect Robert Jarell Neal, 22, saw the men and "mistook the sign language for gang signs," Sgt. Mark Yancey of the Burlington Police Department told ABCNews.com.

"An altercation ensued and the victim was stabbed several times,"Yancey said.

Strangely, Yancey said, there is no evidence to indicate that Jarell was a member of a gang and it remains unknown then why he attacked Daniels. Police would not say if the suspect is believed to have used drugs or alcohol.

Daniels was taken by helicopter to the trauma center at the University of North Carolina, where he remains in stable condition.

Neal fled and was later arrested by police nearby in Elon, N.C., Yancey said. He appeared in court on Friday and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, but did not enter a plea. Bond was set at $500,000.

Neal will likely be represented by a public defender, but an attorney has not yet been appointed.

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