Deaf Man Stabbed After Sign Language Mistaken for Gang Signs

After using sign language to communicate with a friend, a deaf North Carolina man was stabbed several times last week. Why? A passerby apparently mistook his gestures for gang signs.

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After using sign language to communicate with a friend, a deaf North Carolina man was stabbed several times last week. Why? A passerby apparently mistook his gestures for gang signs.

Terrance Ervin Daniels, 45, suffered wounds to the upper body during the altercation in Burlington, N.C., according to ABC News. The suspect is 22-year-old Robert Jarell Neal, who allegedly saw Daniels and his friend, also deaf, walking down the street, and approached wielding a kitchen knife.

(MORE: Talk With Your Hands: Gloves Translate Sign Language Into Speech)

Although Neal mistook the sign language for gang signs, there’s no evidence to suggest that he’s actually involved with any gangs, ABC News reports. So as of now, it’s not clear why he attacked Daniels.

Following the incident, Daniels was flown by helicopter to the University of North Carolina trauma center for treatment. (He remains in stable condition.) Neal fled the scene, but was later arrested in Elon, N.C., Sgt. Mark Yancey of the Burlington Police Department told ABC News. At his court hearing Friday, Neal was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill — as well as a felony assault on a handicapped person. He did not enter a plea, and bond was set at $500,000.

Though this situation might seem like a bizarre and very troubling outlier, a strikingly similar scenario has occurred in the past. In 2011, two hearing-impaired Florida men were stabbed after their ASL conversation was mistaken for an exchange of gang signs.

MORE: Chicago City Clerk Scraps Boy’s Winning Sticker for Supposed Gang Symbols

11 comments
michelle.l.buckingham
michelle.l.buckingham

I am pretty sure those signs at the top of this article are (as near as I can tell) 1, 2, W, 4, 5, Y, No, 21, X, and S. What's the point of including those? Either they are not ASL, which is the language the victim was using, or they are very random selections of ASL gestures.

romans5three
romans5three

@michelle.l.buckingham1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Just a stock photo because no article should be without a photo.

Jaxvolleyball
Jaxvolleyball

@romans5three @michelle.l.buckingham

That is not 1-10. The W could also be 6, but it is definitely not 1-10! I also was wondering why they selected those hand shapes!

KatieOne
KatieOne

Sure..no gang affiliation. Mhhmmmm

ScottJohnson1
ScottJohnson1

that's a dam crying shame even for a Carolina boy ( and I'm) a born and bread one

AnthonyBellotteSr.
AnthonyBellotteSr. like.author.displayName 1 Like

Oh my!  Time to Ban all Knifes.  Common Pres, sic Joe "Box o Rocks" on the knife industry.  Remove them from all homes.

Especially butcher knifes.

AndrewJSpagnoli
AndrewJSpagnoli

@AnthonyBellotteSr. ... did I miss something? A few nonfatal stabs is not equivalent to a gun massacre... and if he had an assault weapon, we WOULD be talking about deaths, probably of both victims, the attacker, and possibly first responders. So good point, moron.

Sarah.H
Sarah.H

Disgusting to say the least. 

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

This is the most messed up thing I have read this morning.