Monday, June 18, 2018
Public safety

Belleair Beach man arrested after fillet knife attack in bar

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — Nick Rees and his older brother Gordon were getting ready to pay their bar tab and leave on Sunday night when a man barreled into the Red Lion Pub and started stabbing a bartender.

The Rees brothers and Michael Arnold, 26, jumped in. Gordon wrestled the man to the ground and separated him from his fillet knife, but not before being punched in the face. Nick Rees wound up with a gash on his left forearm, Arnold's hand was cut, and the bartender, Rebecca Schaefer, 32, was hospitalized with multiple stab wounds that officials said were not life-threatening.

Deputies have charged James Klingbeil, 50, a Belleair Beach resident with a lengthy criminal record, with attempted murder and three counts of aggravated battery. He was booked into the Pinellas County jail, where he was being held Monday morning in lieu of $160,000 bail.

Klingbeil reportedly began arguing with a bartender about 11 p.m. Sunday when she refused to sell him alcohol because he was intoxicated. He left the bar at 1407 Gulf Blvd. and went to a nearby market where he bought a fillet knife, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

He then returned to the pub and resumed his argument, but with a different bartender. This time he pulled out the knife and began attacking Schaefer, authorities said.

The Rees brothers hadn't noticed Klingbeil while they were playing pool, but as they were on their way out they ended up in the middle of Klingbeil's assault.

"It was so quick and chaotic," said Nick Rees, 35, a Largo firefighter. "He was going directly for her, and I got directly in the middle."

Rees described the Red Lion Pub as a "quiet little beach bar" — not the kind of place where a man like Klingbeil, who has a record of 23 arrests and seven convictions, would frequent. He and his wife go there for lunch sometimes, he said.

Schaefer and Arnold went to Bayfront Medical Center, and Rees was taken to Largo Medical Center, where his arm required eight stitches.

Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story.

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