MILL CREEK, Wash. - Two boys who were attacked at a Dollar Tree in Mill Creek said they were chased into the store after calling a man a video game insult. One of the boys was hospitalized after being stabbed.
Joshua Federov said he and his 11-year-old friend were hanging out near the Thomas Lake Shopping Center on March 22 when they encountered a man in the area.
"He was at the crosswalk and we were on the hill at the dollar store, and then we yelled "NPC" and he jaywalked across the street and then started chasing us into the dollar store," said Federov.
NPC stands for non-playable character. It's a video game term described as a game character that isn't controlled by a player and is sometimes used as an insult, with the connotation that the individual doesn't have agency or critical thought.
Federov said he didn't think the man would react the way he did.
"We're going to be fine if we just run into the dollar store. That's what I thought," said Federov. "When I saw him pull out a knife, I realized it wasn't a joke."
Witnesses say the two boys were yelling "it's not that serious!" as they were running away. Witnesses also saw the man grab one of the boys and stab him.
Federov said he was just feet away when the man stabbed his 11-year-old friend.
Federov's friend doesn't want to be named, but his friend's mother, Shanai Rowton, describes watching her 11-year-old son cling to life in the ICU as a wake-up call.
"[My son] got oxygen, they had just given him a unit of blood because he lost blood," said Rowton.
She said her son was stabbed in his lung and in his liver and spent three days in the ICU at Harborview Medical Center.
Rowton's son is now recovering at home, but she now has to treat his stab wounds multiple times a day.
She's set up a GoFundMe to help with his recovery.
Rowton, along with Federov's mother, Julia Federov, said they both moved their families to Mill Creek because they thought it was safe.
"After this incident, I'm like, what do you do now? Where do I move my kids? After what happened, it's not safe here anymore," said Julia Federov.
Both mothers are keeping an even closer eye on their kids and a close eye on their surroundings.
"We've got druggies, homelessness-- like, it's migrating this way, so I don't feel like we're safe anywhere at this point," said Rowton.
Rowton said her son will see a general surgeon in another week.
Police arrested 29-year-old Joshua David Pence in connection to the incident.
He was booked into Snohomish County Jail for two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Bail was set $500,000.