It was just going to be a quick trip for some ice cream, but Johnny Jay Bogan unexpectedly found himself on the floor of a Burger King in Burbank last week, wrestling a man who had just stabbed someone.
He wasn’t even supposed to be at the fast-food restaurant that day.
The 53-year-old Glendale resident works as a counselor at BCR “a place to grow,” a nonprofit that helps children and adults with special needs, and was at a nearby laundromat with three of the organization’s clients on the morning of June 19. Bogan said he usually gets ice cream for the group on Wednesdays, but, while waiting for their laundry to dry, they decided to head to the Burger King at 545 N. Victory Blvd.
“I was getting my clients ice cream cones. I was passing them out, one, two, three … and then I hear a woman scream,” Bogan said. “I see this guy hitting a senior, and it looked like he was punching him. Then I saw blood coming out of his shirt.”
According to the Burbank Police Department, a stranger had approached a 74-year-old man having coffee at the restaurant with his friends just before 11 a.m. and began stabbing him in the neck and shoulder in an unprovoked attack.
When Bogan realized what was happening, he grabbed a nearby chair, threw it at the attacker and leaped on top of him.
“It was just completely savage, what was taking place,” he said. “But I knew I had to help this gentleman out.”
While trying to wrestle the man to the ground, Bogan said he received a small nick on the shoulder as the attacker swung the knife at him. He didn’t even realize it until a police officer pointed out his shirt was slashed.
Eventually, Bogan was able to pin the man down and gain control of the knife, but the attacker still fought back. During the struggle, the man grabbed at the knife while Bogan held it and stabbed himself.
After getting stabbed, the man repeatedly said, “Thank you.”
“He just kept saying thank you. Like, ‘thank you for helping me kill myself?’ It was unnerving,” Bogan said.
Authorities identified the man as 36-year-old James Rey Richard Kagaoan, a transient whose last reported address was in Sun Valley. He died from the knife wound he received while the 74-year-old man survived the attack.
Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse said during a Police Commission meeting on June 20 that Kagaoan had a history of mental-health issues. He was detained in Whittier earlier this month on a psychiatric hold.
LaChasse commended Bogan for stopping the attack.
“Had he not taken action, you [would have] had two other folks that were there that could quite conceivably be attacked by this man,” he said. “Thank God for the intervention of this individual.”
Bogan called the entire incident traumatic, saying he’s always seen violence on television but never thought he’d experience it firsthand. Despite that, he said he didn’t give second thought about confronting Kagaoan, and he would do it again.
Growing up, Bogan said he was always taught to “step in and help people” whenever they couldn’t help themselves. It’s a value that has translated to his work at BCR, where he’ll celebrate his 20-year anniversary with the organization in September.
“I help people. That’s what I was put on this Earth to do,” he said. “I’m not going to stand by and let anyone be abused. I don’t care who they are, even if the guy was built like ‘The Rock.’”
Although, Bogan said the outcome might have been different if the attacker was larger.