Richland panhandler tries to stab a man who told him move, police say

A panhandler chased a man down with a knife after a passerby suggested he move from in front of Richland’s WinCo Foods.

Samuel G. Newton, 49, was asking for money in front the George Washington Way store at 8:40 a.m. Sunday, when a store customer told him he should move because the store likely didn’t want him there, according to court records.

Newton reacted angrily and they began to argue. Then Newton pulled out a knife and charged the man, said Richland police.

A cellphone recording, which was not made public, shows Newton with the knife in his hand, while he let loose a series of profanities, including racial slurs, said police.

Newton chased the customer, who is black, onto the nearby Columbia Point Golf Course.

“A witness ... later stated to me that he believed if the police had not showed up when they did, Samuel would have stabbed (the other man),“ a Richland officer said in the court documents.

When the officer arrived, he found Newton still chasing the man.

Once Newton realized the officer was there, he dropped the knife.

Officers detained both men until they could figure out what happened as Newton continued yelling racial slurs and told the victim he was going to “get him” and that he was a “dead man,” said police.

Newton was booked into the Benton County jail on investigation of first-degree assault and harassment.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.