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Fellow Microsoft employee identified as suspect in stabbing of co-worker after witness hears ‘sounds like an animal was dying’

Joseph Richard Cantrell

Joseph Richard Cantrell (L) via King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, (R) via Redmond Police Dept.

A 26-year-old employee at Microsoft faces decades in prison after allegedly stabbing another Microsoft employee more than a dozen times near the tech behemoth’s campus in an unprovoked attack that left the victim in critical condition.

Joseph Richard Cantrell was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with one count of attempted second-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault, records reviewed by Law&Crime show. According to the Redmond Police Department in Washington State, North Sound Metro SWAT at approximately 5:50 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 22, 2023 responded to a reported assault with a weapon at the corner of 156th Ave. NE and NE 28th Street. Redmond is located approximately 15 miles east of Seattle.

Upon arriving at the scene, authorities located an adult male victim who appeared to be suffering from multiple stab wounds. The victim was then transported to the hospital with “critical injuries,” police said.

Prosecutors with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office provided additional details of the incident in a sworn affidavit of probable cause obtained by Law&Crime, including a first-hand account from the first officer on the scene.

“[The victim’] was on the sidewalk face-up and I immediately noticed a significant amount of blood on his body on the sidewalk and on the street. He had a significant amount of blood on his face and head. As I made contact with him I asked him what hurt, he identified it being hard to breath and that he believed he was stabbed in the chest,” the officer wrote. “[The victim] was conscious and alert and was telling me areas that were hurting, and he was saying he was starting to feel funny. He had a significant amount of blood loss on scene. I asked [the victim] if he knew who did this, he said ‘no,’ making me believe the attack may have been unprovoked and random as at the time of the incident it did not appear the suspect was known to [the victim].”

At the hospital, the victim—who was diagnosed with a fractured skull and a brain bleed in addition to the stab wounds—told police that he recalled hearing the suspect yelling while waiting for the crosswalk light to change, saying it sounded “like crazy talk.”

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“[The victim] said as he started to face back south, he noticed out of the corner of his right eye, the suspect appeared to be walking briskly right up to him shouting. [The victim] suddenly felt himself get stabbed in the right side of his neck then head and then he felt his entire right side of his body get repeatedly stabbed,” the document states. “[The victim] was suddenly knocked down from the unprovoked attack. He told [police] as he landed on his back, the suspect continued to try stabbing him, so he started to fight him off with his feet and hands.”

Witnesses described the alleged attacker as a 5’9″ white male with dark hair in his 20s or 30s, with a medium build and wearing a burgundy hoodie and dark pants. One witness told police the entire attack last a total or approximately 10 seconds, per the affidavit. Another witness, who was working in the Microsoft One Esterra building, said she saw the attack from her window after hearing what she described as something that “sounds like an animal was dying.”

The SWAT team later that evening obtained and executed a search warrant on the suspect—later identified as Cantrell—who they said had “barricaded himself in his nearby apartment.” Cantrell was taken into custody without further incident at approximately 1 a.m. on Feb. 23 and booked into the King County Jail, where he was initially charged with only one count of first-degree assault.

According to the affidavit, Cantrell had recently relocated to the Redmond area from Georgia and did not know the victim. Investigators were reportedly able to locate Cantrell based on witness statements, footage from surveillance cameras, and a trail of blood that led to his apartment building.

Inside of Cantrell’s apartment, police said, authorities found clothing matching the description from witnesses that was covered in blood. Bloody shoes and several knives, two of which appeared to have been recently cleaned, were recovered, cops said.

“The defendant appears to have been prepared for this significant act of violence,” prosecutors wrote in court documents. “He was equipped with a knife and gloves. He assaulted the victim shortly after exiting his apartment building. He then quickly returned to his residence and attempted to get rid of evidence of his involvement.”

Cantrell is currently being held on $2 million bond and is scheduled to appear for his arraignment on March 9.

Law&Crime reached out to Microsoft for comment on the incident.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.