As told to Alberto Perez
I have been a part of the Austin nightlife scene for close to 10 years now. As a DJ, you deal with people from all walks of life and can get into some pretty wild situations. I've been in countless fights over money, girls, and all the other shit that happens when you're out until 6AM every night. But I never expected something like what happened to me earlier this year—on Friday the 13th.
It is a Friday evening in January, and as usual I have a pretty busy weekend ahead of me: I am doing a guest set later that night with DJ King Louie at his weekly hip-hop party over at The Volstead Lounge, an East Austin cocktail bar. On Saturday, I have to DJ a few more events, including a private gala and my regular Saturday night, Booty Me Down, at Barbarella, a local dance club. On top of this, I'm also photographing a holiday party at a local hotel and restaurant.
Before I make it out to Volstead, I decide to go out to dinner with my friend Kirk, a promoter around town who I've known for a few years. We go to Central Standard at the South Congress Hotel. I'm taking pictures of their holiday party, so I figure they'll treat me great for dinner. They do. The bone marrow is perfectly buttery and the pork chop is one of the best I've had in town.
We are done with eating earlier than usual, around 7PM, so we decide to split ways and meet up before my gig later in the evening. I live close to Volstead and have some liquor and beers at my apartment, so Kirk says he will swing by after 9PM for a couple of drinks before we head out. In the meantime, I am home alone for a couple of hours, kind of bored. I have "Thirteen Blue Magic Lane" by Blue Magic on the record player, but I'm not really listening. I have some work open on the computer, but I'm not really working, either. Instead, I'm doing what everyone does when they don't have much to do: looking through my phone, half-smiling at things on the internet.
I'm sitting on the couch when I hear a knock on the door. Looking back, maybe I should have looked through the peephole. But I tend to have friends come through before or after gigs, so it's not strange for someone to just knock on my door unannounced. I just figure it is Kirk, so I open the door.
I find a guy in dark clothing and a ski mask on. He's holding a large katana—a traditional Japanese sword—in his hand. The ski mask isn't covering much, and I can see the man's eyes clearly. I immediately realize it is someone I have known for a while named Charlie. (His given name is Shusaku Shiroyama, but he always introduced himself as Charlie.)
I don't recall exactly when I met Charlie. It was probably sometime over the last few months, while I was DJing at Volstead or at my weekly set at Barbarella. I remember thinking he was kind of an odd guy. He dressed like a rockabilly meets art school drop-out who had just landed in Texas: a slick pompadour, tight tucked-in shirt with a big belt buckle, baggy jeans and boots. He also had a certain in-your-face way of talking, like he was trying to prove to you that he was confident. It made me feel like he always had some kind of a plan up his sleeve.
During our first encounter, Charlie told me about this Clockwork Orange-themed bar called MOLOKO he was working on. He kept going on about how it was the coolest new thing for Austin, and how I should DJ there. I didn't particularly care, to be honest. That's just not really my side of the business—I just play the music. Plus, I'm used to a lot of people talking to me about playing at their bar, party, show, or whatever, so I never think much about it until we actually sit down and set something up.
Miguel Angel, who DJs under the alias ulovei (Photo via Austin.Culturemap)
MOLOKO opened up in October 2016. Charlie tried to get me to play some early events, but I was pretty booked up. We were finally able to settle on a weekly night on Tuesdays, and we started an event, Velvet Leather, in early to mid-December. It was supposed to be all-vinyl disco and soul, but I was free to just play whatever. At the time, the night was just getting off the ground. It was never too busy, but we were hoping it would grow.
As soon as I started working at his bar, Charlie started texting me all the time to hang out, or just talk about some future endeavors. I work with so many people around Austin that at the time, it didn't seem out of the ordinary. After being in the nightlife scene for so long, your circle of friends becomes anyone who's up late, such as bartenders, drug dealers and other DJs.
Charlie started coming over to my place to hang out all the time. When I was getting my gear together after DJing when bar had closed, he'd often invite himself over for drinks. He became close to me and those around me, including my friends and my girlfriend at the time. I guess some of my friends noticed, as they would joke and ask if my "boyfriend" Charlie was coming over. It was all in fun, which is why I initially am really confused and start wondering if this is some kind of prank. After all, it is Friday the 13th. So I say, "Hey, what's up?" and look around for a second, expecting to see someone else behind him.
After pushing his way into my apartment, Charlie rushes straight at me, screaming incoherently and starting to punch me. I'm still confused and trying to hold him off, moving backwards through my kitchen and towards the living room area to avoid his attack. He starts swinging his katana at me, hitting me on the sides of my torso and legs. I can tell the sword is one of those cheap ones you might get at a pawn shop or at the pulga because it's too blunt to cut me—at first. In the struggle, his ski mask comes off and I just yell, "Charlie, why are you doing this?! What the fuck Charlie?!" He looks really out of it, like he's blinded with rage, but also clearly on some kind of drugs—something I had never seen from him or anyone before.
I try to push him off me and make my way towards my kitchen where I have my knives, thinking that maybe if I get one, he'll start to back off. As I'm fighting to get away, he starts lifting the katana upwards to swing towards my face. Before he's able to fully strike down, I'm able grab the blade with my hand, holding it tightly. The blade begins cutting into my hand and fingers as he's pushing towards me, trying to shake it out of my grasp. As he pushes closer to me, he reaches to his right hip and pulls out a knife he's accustomed to having strapped to his belt. He slashes at me and stabs my arm. Then, I feel the knife go into the right side of my back, and a rush of blood going down my back into my pants, and down into my leg. The pain is palpable as the knife turns slightly in my back. I'm immediately weaker.
The entire time, I have absolutely no idea why he's attacking me, but with the knife in my back, I realize that Charlie's not just trying to beat me up. He's trying to kill me. I yell out again, "CHARLIE WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!" I'm able to reach back and pull the knife and his hand from my back, and now have both the katana and the knife cutting into my hands. I have a shortness of breath, and there's a heavy flow of blood streaming from my back. Charlie is pushing the knife towards my face and is able to cut me down the cheek as he's pushing his weight onto me. My movement is paralyzed, but I push against the knife staring me in the face with all the strength I can manage. My hands are covered in blood and the blades are slipping from my grasp.
I look over and suddenly see Kirk in doorway looking startled and confused. I yell out to him, "KIRK, HE STABBED ME! HE'S TRYING TO KILL ME!" Charlie stops pushing towards me, turns to the doorway, and I think I hear him yell out "NO! I'LL KILL YOU TOO!" Kirk turns and starts running down the hallway as Charlie bolts out the door in pursuit. I take a second to gather my strength, then run towards the door and lock it.
My apartment is a mess, with blood everywhere. We've been banging into walls, so things are broken on the floor. I'm disoriented, confused and I can't breathe well. I'm holding my hand against my back and I feel a large pocket of blood about the size of a golf ball collecting where he stabbed me. My thoughts are all over the place, I feel weak, and I start thinking that I'm going to die. I get a call from Kirk. He tells me he's in his car and that he has me on a three-way call with 911. The dispatcher asks me a lot of questions that I can't think straight enough to answer. All I tell her is my address, that I'm in my apartment bleeding out, and I need an ambulance immediately. She tells me they're heading over. I don't know what makes me do it, but I pull out my phone and start to take a video of my place and the wounds I've sustained. Everything's a blur, and in my haze, I also decide it's a good idea to text my friend Louie and let him know I probably can't make it to my DJ set that night. I hear a loud knock on the door: "POLICE! OPEN UP!"
The police sit me down and begin to treat me while we wait for the ambulance. They're looking around my place, taking notes and asking me a million questions. I tell them everything I know about Charlie, and give them the best description I can. The ambulance arrives and I'm rushed downstairs. My phone starts blowing up with messages from various friends asking me what happened. Word travels fast I guess. I'm too tired and overwhelmed to answer each message so I just say fuck it and start posting videos on Instagram from inside the ambulance and as I'm admitted into the hospital. At the time it seems like the easiest way to let everyone know that something happened but that I'm kind of OK.
The hospital is crazy. I talk to a lot of doctors who pumping me full of things, take my pulse, and all that. A bunch of cops and doctors are there asking me questions, and a lot of them are there to see "the guy who got stabbed by a sword." One of the cops says it was one of the grossest wounds he's seen, and that isn't encouraging. The doctors fear that the stab wound has lacerated my lung. Luckily it missed all vital organs. I end up getting about 50 stitches.
A few friends showed up to the hospital, along with Kirk. I stay composed but I am terrified on the inside. We are all talking about the attack, still confused about how or why it went down. Someone says they are going to check out what is going on at Volstead, and another friend jokingly says that I should hit it up for my gig. We all laugh, but I start wondering, why not?
I am dispatched from the hospital around 12 AM, and Kirk takes me back home. When I arrive, it is still a mess, with blood everywhere. It is still a pretty scary sight to see. I didn't want to admit it, but I am scared. I had been attacked in my own home by someone I trusted. I decide I want to go out and show everyone, including myself, that I wasn't beaten.
We show up to Volstead around 1:30 AM, and as I walk in everyone looked at me in shock. I walked to Louie who's behind the DJ booth and ask if I could cut into his set like we had originally planned. My hands are in pain and I am out of it because of the morphine, but I play a few songs to an enthusiastic crowd. There were a million things going through my head at the moment, but playing music to a hyped up crowd is cathartic. Being in front of an audience gives me the relief that the hospital's pain killers can't match. After my set, I spend a while walking around, talking to a few people. It is good to see familiar faces, people I care about. It was good to be back in my element.
Since the incident, I've shown up to every photography and DJ gig I've been booked on. It's hard cause I'm in constant pain, and it'll be a while until I'm fully healed. According to news reports, Charlie was arrested shortly after the incident walking down the street headed home. He is still in jail as of right now, being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and burglary of a habitation with intent to commit a felony.
I still have no real understanding as to why Charlie did this. Rumors travel fast but nothing seems to make sense. In the week prior to the incident, my girlfriend and I had an amicable split. I've since heard that she and Charlie were spending time together but I can't speculate as to what that meant for Charlie. I think he just snapped. I suppose it will all come to light when the case goes to court.
I'm living day to day right now, but sadly I don't think my life will ever go back to normal. I'm very paranoid and freaked out. Everything feels weird, and I still haven't been able to put the whole thing together. The incident put my whole life in perspective. I keep my close friends around as much as possible, as they help me feel safe and keep me motivated. I think about my decisions and what I could have done for someone to want to stab me. I question friendships and those I've let into my life and into my home. I was a victim. I was helpless. I was left to die. And as a result, I'm a lot more guarded and cautious now.
I still love DJing and being in front of a crowd, but I don't have the same excitement to go out that I used to. I let this man into my life and I was stabbed in the back, both literally and metaphorically.