ARCATA, Calif. - Humboldt State University student David Josiah Lawson died early Saturday morning, after being stabbed at a party in Arcata, according to HSU. His friend, Elijah Chandler, said he believes the stabbing was racially motivated.
"There was an altercation between some white women and a white boy that were accusing Josiah based off the color of his skin on stealing a phone," Chandler said. "And they got into an altercation at which time they pepper sprayed him and proceeded to stab Josiah."
Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said that a threat and confrontation of cell phone theft was what set the incident off.
According to HSU, incident happened off-campus and Arcata officers took a suspect into custody. The Arcata Police Department has not released the name of the suspect, officers said. Although, jail records show that Kyle Christopher Zoellner, a 23-year-old McKinleyville resident, was arrested for homicide.
Chandler, an HSU student, said another member of Brothers United, which is a community-based cultural club intended to unite men of color at HSU, disarmed the man and he ran to Lawson's side under a tree. Chandler said Lawson was fighting for his life and bleeding out. Having basic CPR training, Chandler said he took off his shirt and proceeded to apply pressure to Lawson. Then Chandler said he had someone else hold his shirt while he began to give Lawson CPR.
Chandler said he did that for about 15 minutes, watching Lawson go in and out of consciousness.
"And so I had to fight for my friend's life and wait for help that came way too late," Chandler said.
Lawson's mother, Charmaine Lawson, began a GoFundMe page to raise money for a funeral service and to bring her son's body back home to Perris, California.
"He [Lawson] was a sophomore at Humboldt State University studying criminal justice where he would have used his degree to help the voiceless in the community," Charmaine Lawson said.