HERNANDO COUNTY, FL – A stabbing incident reported on yesterday, February 23, turned out to be the result of a verbal dispute that escalated between two transients over panhandling, according to authorities. On Tuesday, Hernando County authorities responded to the area of Mariner Boulevard and Cortez Boulevard alongside the Walgreens regarding a male on the ground, who was reportedly bleeding from his face.
Upon arrival, deputies observed a male on the sidewalk; the male was bleeding profusely from his upper body. Witnesses provided a description and direction of travel for a female suspect. Deputies quickly located the suspect walking eastbound on Cortez Boulevard and placed her into custody.
An investigation revealed the victim and the suspect were both transients and did not know one another but were engaged in a verbal altercation regarding panhandling on the corner. During the altercation, the suspect became physically aggressive and began pushing the victim who then fell to the ground.
While falling, the victim felt a “burning or stinging” sensation on the side of his neck. Detecting a large amount of blood in the area of his face and neck, the victim realized he’d been stabbed. While still on the ground, the victim observed the suspect running eastbound from the scene.
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Deputies stopped and detained the suspect, later identified as Leah Victoria Barrett, in the area of Cortez Boulevard and Fish Eagle Boulevard. During a weapons search of her person, deputies located a stainless steel steak knife in her right front pocket. This knife had what appeared to be blood on it. Deputies also located a hunting-style knife with a six-inch blade inside Barrett’s backpack.
While speaking with detectives regarding the incident, Barrett, who does not possess a concealed weapons permit, changed her story a few times; however, she did say she “stuck him” when asked about the bloody substance on the knife deputies located in her pocket.
Barrett then became uncooperative with detectives. At that point, Leah Victoria Barrett, 32, was placed under arrest and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed weapon. Her bond was set at $11,000. The victim’s injuries were deemed to be not life-threatening.