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Prosecutors reveal what led to fatal stabbing of Chicago West Loop restaurant worker

Family mourns server who was stabbed to death at Chicago's City Winery
Family mourns server who was stabbed to death at Chicago's City Winery 02:56

CHICAGO (CBS) – The West Loop restaurant worker charged with fatally stabbing his coworker on Wednesday at the City Winery will remain in jail, a judge ordered on Friday.

Prosecutors said Clarence Johnson, a 41-year-old dishwasher at City Winery, allegedly used a pocket knife to attack his coworker, Francois Swain, 47. Johnson was charged with first-degree murder and possession of a controlled substance in connection with the attack.

Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Anne McCord said the restaurant manager, bartender, and two customers watched in horror as Johnson repeatedly stabbed Swain in what was called an unprovoked attack.

McCord said moments before the incident, Johnson had laid face down on the floor in the restaurant, made statements praising Jesus, then got up and walked away. He was then seen on video pushing Swain against the bar. Moments later, witnesses said they saw Johnson stab Swain multiple times.

Fatal stabbing of Chicago restaurant worker was unprovoked, prosecutors say 02:30

McCord said Johnson allegedly chased Swain into the main seating area of the restaurant. Two patrons seated at the bar saw Johnson, with the knife in his hand, chase Swain and stab him multiple times.

"The bartender ran from the bar and provided aid to the victim," McCord said. "The bartender also observed the defendant try to render aid to the victim as well."

Prosecutors added that first responders treated Johnson for four stab wounds in his chest, shoulder, and back. He ultimately died at an area hospital.

McCord also said before being read his Miranda rights, Johnson "made spontaneous statements that he didn't mean to do that to the victim."

Johnson's girlfriend agreed to speak with CBS 2 under the condition her name not be used. She said she believes Johnson was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the past and was not taking medication. She said she noticed changes in his behavior over the past week.

"I noticed his demeanor was different," she said. "It was changing. In a way that, he wasn't acting the same. He just wasn't acting the same."

Johnson had 12 prior felony convictions, primarily for drug possession. He was sentenced to six years for possession of a firearm by a gang member. He recently finished probation for a 2020 drug possession charge.

A judge on Friday also ordered Johnson to have no contact with any of the witnesses in the case.

City Winery did not respond to a request for comment on their employee's background.

Fatal stabbing of Chicago restaurant worker was unprovoked, prosecutors say 02:30

"He shouldn't be gone like this"

Swain's family spoke to CBS 2 on Friday about his death. His mother, Karen Coleman called her son "a good person."

"Frank was a good person, hilarious and comedy all in one," she said. "He was quiet, quiet-spoken. He loved everybody. He loved life. He shouldn't be gone like this."

Swain's mother and sister said he loved his job as a server at City Winery, but his mother was always worried about safety – particularly taking the train in from his home in south suburban Harvey to the West Loop.

"She always worried about him taking public transportation to work - but never to go to work and this happens," said Swain's sister, Ericka Swain-Ferrell. "We're in shock."

Swain's family called for consequences for Johnson.

"I want this person to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said Swain-Ferrell. "My brother did not deserve to die like this. He went to work like everyone else. Everyone deserves to go to work and come back home - and he did not deserve this."

Swain's sister described her brother as loving and a jokester – everything but confrontational.

"If it was something that was work-related; if he was having problems or issues like that, he knows that I'm a human-resources professional – so he would've called me and said, 'Hey, what do I do?'" said Swain-Ferrell. "What happened? What were the events that led to his death? What was said? Just why? Why?"

Swain was the only living parent to his daughter. He also left behind a baby grandson – a tremendous void in a tight-knit family.

"Frank was our everything. He may not have had much, but what he had he made do - and was very giving. He was a very giving person, and now we don't have that anymore," said Swain-Ferrell.

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