JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A man accused of stabbing a Kansas City college official intended to attack Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon instead and mistakenly believed he had done so, police said Thursday.
The suspect, 22-year-old Casey Brezik, did not know Nixon and had no particularly beef with the governor, but he decided to attack him because he was a top government official, Kansas city police spokesman Darin Snapp said.
Brezik, of Raytown, is charged with two felony counts each of first-degree assault and armed criminal action. A Jackson County judge entered not guilty pleas on his behalf during a court appearance Wednesday.
Brezik did not have an attorney in court and no attorney was listed for him Thursday on Missouri's online court records. The public defender's office did not immediately return messages Thursday.
Albert Dimmitt Jr., the dean of instruction at Penn Valley Community College, was stabbed in the neck Tuesday while waiting for Nixon to arrive for a news conference about federal grants for high-speed Internet projects. Nixon was still at a Kansas City airport when the attack occurred, and the event was canceled.
When detectives interviewed Brezik on Wednesday, he told them that he had gone to class at the college on Tuesday morning only to learn it had been canceled because of the governor's visit, Snapp said.
"He observed the faculty, and thinking it was the governor, he attacked the faculty" member, Snapp told The Associated Press.
"When the detectives told him it was not the governor, he appeared to be upset," Snapp added.
Police said Brezik was wearing a bullet proof vest the day of the attack, but Snapp said it was unclear whether he regularly wore one or had done so particularly for that day.
Witnesses said the attacker first went to the podium where Nixon was scheduled to speak, then ran out of the room while holding a knife and stabbed Dimmitt in the hallway. Dimmitt was hospitalized but is expected to recover, college officials have said.
Relatives of Brezik said he has battled mental illness for years. His father, Raymond Florio, told The Kansas City Star that Brezik talked about "big brother watching" and harbored anti-government views.
The Star reported Thursday that Brezik was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2006 and spent time in at least four mental hospitals, according to court documents filed by his mother in Greene County in 2007.