Homeless man charged in newsstand stabbing

Posted: June 25, 2013

The Winchester Star

Winchester News Stand owner Paul Whittlemore said he was stabbed in the wrist Monday by a disgruntled customer. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — A local homeless man was arrested Monday after police say he stabbed the owner of the Winchester News Stand.

Nicholas West, 56, is charged with malicious wounding. He is being held without bond at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.

Paul “The Duck” Whittemore, owner and the clerk on duty at the business at 30 E. Piccadilly St., said West became angry with him after being told he would have to pay five cents for a plastic bag.

According to Whittemore, West then began cursing — and after being asked to leave twice, allegedly stabbed him in the wrist.

“He just lunged at me with the knife,” said Whittemore, 77, of Winchester. “I didn’t even see the knife coming at me until I felt a prick.”

He added that there were four to five customers in the store at the time, and that it all happened so fast that no one knew West even had a knife.

City police responded to the stabbing just after noon and detained West a short time later.

Whittemore, who has owned the newsstand for eight years, did not seek medical treatment at the time for his wound — which he said was caused by a three- to four-inch pocket knife.

“I’m fine, I’m a former Marine,” he said of the minor cut, adding that he didn’t need stitches but might get a tetanus shot.

He wrapped up his wrist in a white bandage and kept on working, checking out a few more customers while police looked over surveillance video.

The war veteran said he has been shot before, but never encountered a situation like the one that unfolded at his shop Monday.

“Over a lousy plastic bag that I asked him to pay five cents for,” Whittemore said.

This isn’t the first time West has caused a stir with city police.

He left his army-style duffel bag unattended and padlocked to a pipe May 10 at Lowe’s, at 2200 S. Pleasant Valley Road.

Officers received a call that the bag was suspicious, and part of the store was evacuated while the Virginia State Police Bomb Squad responded to the scene to evaluate the threat.

The bag was moved outside, and a bomb squad robot examined it and its contents.

Shortly after, West appeared on scene and claimed the bag, stating that he left it inside the store because he needed a safe place to keep it while he walked into the city.

No criminal charges were filed in the case.

West most likely will appear in Winchester General District Court today for a bond hearing on the malicious wounding charge.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com