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Vegas stabbing suspect attacked women dressed as showgirls after asking to pose with them, police say

"For somebody to run up and stab them like that — it was just horrific," a witness said. "I can’t even get the image out of my head."
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A suspect accused in a fatal stabbing spree on the Las Vegas Strip asked a group of performers dressed as showgirls if he could pose with them for a photo holding a large kitchen knife — and began stabbing them moments later, according to an arrest report obtained Friday.

One of the performers told authorities that the request, made outside the Wynn Casino before noon Thursday, made her uncomfortable, so she began backing away from the suspect, who described himself as a chef and was holding a knife with an 8- to 10-inch blade, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department report.

Police say the suspect, later identified as Yoni Barrios, 32, then charged at the woman. The performer, who has not been identified, told authorities that she felt pressure to her back and fell to the ground — but only later realized that she’d been stabbed, the report says.

When she looked back, she saw Barrios charging toward the other performers, she told authorities. One of them, Maris Mareen Digiovanni, 30, died in the attack, officials said.

Gage DiGiovanni posted on a Facebook on Thursday that it was "with great sadness that we say goodbye and see you later to my amazing little sister."

“Please pray for our family and her husband," he wrote. "We appreciate the space to grieve in the coming days and know she touched your lives as she did ours.”

Two people died in the attack and six were injured. Authorities identified the second fatally wounded victim as Brent Allan Hallett, 47, of Las Vegas.

Barrios was detained Thursday and booked into the Clark County Detention Center, police said. He was charged Friday with two counts of open murder with use of a deadly weapon and six counts of attempted murder. 

A man who witnessed the attack said that he saw the suspect chasing the women around an escalator before he appeared to hit them.

“The girl was on the ground and was not making any noise,” said Dewaun Turner, 47. “He must have hit something real vital. She was just shaking and bleeding.”

“Those girls don’t get paid much to do that. For somebody to run up and stab them like that — it was just horrific. I can’t even get the image out of my head.”

Turner said he and another bystander considered chasing the suspect but called 911 instead and tried to provide a suspect description. From his vantage, he said he could see the suspect stab a man and two women at two locations.

According to the arrest report, a victim told authorities he was sitting on a small concrete wall on Sands Avenue talking on the phone when he saw a man running toward him with what he believed was a beer can in his left hand.

The victim, who has not been identified, didn’t pay much attention to him — until he got closer and appeared to punch him in the chest as he ran by, the report says. The man then saw blood, he told authorities.

Another victim told a detective he was walking on the strip with his wife when he saw a man running toward him covered in blood. “Sorry man,” Barrios allegedly said before stabbing him in the back and fleeing south on Las Vegas Boulevard, the arrest report says.

Barrios told detectives in an interview that he attacked the women because he believed they were laughing and making fun of him, the report says.

"Barrios started running and looking for groups of people so he could 'let the anger out,'" the report says, adding that he hoped officers would shoot him after he threw the knife in some bushes.

He told the detectives that he arrived from California earlier in the week hoping to stay with a friend, the report says. The friend declined, so Barrios took a bus to the Las Vegas Strip, he told authorities, noting that other passengers weren’t treating him “like a human being,” the report says.

Barrios said he sought a janitor job at the Wynn and asked an employee to contact immigration authorities so he could return home to Guatemala, the report says.

After leaving the casino, he encountered the performers near the escalator.

It wasn’t clear if Barrios had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.