After a long, late shift at a Ballard eatery, Lillian Germond was walking into her apartment building. That's when the man attacked, armed with a long blade. But soon, the attacker became the prey. "He was a coward," Germond's boyfriend said.
When Lillian Germond walked into her Seattle apartment building early New Year’s Day, she didn’t know the man walking behind her was about to attack, armed with a machete.
But it didn’t matter in the end. Her self-defense training — learned as a child at the behest of her father, a retired California cop — kicked in.
“I realized, ‘This is it. It’s going down. I’m going to kick this guy’s ass,’ ” the 27-year-old Madison Park woman said during a recent interview at her home.
The artist, student and restaurant server said she was telling her story in the hopes it will serve as an inspiration and a warning. No matter how safe you think your neighborhood is, she said, you can never completely let down your guard and you can never be too prepared.
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The alleged assailant, Steven Jahn, 21, of Edmonds, was charged on Thursday by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office with felony second-degree assault and fourth-degree assault. He is being held in King County Jail on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 18.
Germond said she had worked a long, late shift at a Ballard eatery on New Year’s Eve and it was about 3:30 a.m. when she found a parking space a block away from the apartment she shares with her boyfriend.
As she was walking home, she noticed a man behind her who seemed to be closing the distance between them.
But, though she is usually aware and wary, she knew revelers were still celebrating the new year and she assumed, when he walked up the path behind her, that he was also a resident of the key-coded building.
She even held the door open slightly for him, she said.
“I thought it was one of my neighbors and was about to try and get my key out when this guy came straight for me and I realized he had a machete,” Germond said. “I backed up against my (apartment’s) front door and he said, ‘Don’t (expletive) move.’ ”
Germond held out her bag and said, “Here, you can have everything.”
But he didn’t want it, she said.
He repeated himself and then grabbed her by the throat while raising the blade.
That’s when, she said, the 10 years of taekwondo her father made her take paid off.
She dropped her bag and said to herself, “OK, here we go. It’s either fight or die.”
She grabbed the machete’s blade, cutting her hand, and started screaming for her boyfriend, Chauncey Arkfeld, 30, a sommelier.
“When he heard Chauncey moving and yelling, he tried to pull away,” Germond said.
But her adrenaline was coursing and he was now the prey, she said. She was determined to deliver him to police.
“I didn’t want him to do this to someone else,” she said.
She grabbed him by the back of the jacket, got him into a headlock and tumbled out the building’s front door and down the front steps.
Arkfeld came out to see them falling and ran over to help.
Germond said the attacker was still fighting to get away and biting her all over her hands and arms.
Arkfeld jumped in and struggled with the attacker while Germond disarmed him and then hit him with a broken table leg that had been left near the stoop.
“He was a coward. He was like, ‘Please stop hitting me. This was my first time doing this.’ … ” said Arkfeld.
Neighbors came out to help and police were called.
Once they arrived, Jahn was taken away.
Both Germond and Arkfeld said they suffered bruises and cuts over much of their bodies, but they know they were lucky.
In the statement of probable cause, police said the machete, a second knife and a roll of duct tape were found at the scene.
“Seeing the duct tape put a horrible feeling in my stomach,” said Arkfeld. “It takes it to a whole new level.”
Germond’s father, a former facility captain at a correctional facility and former tactical commander with the State of California, said he couldn’t be more pleased with his daughter.
“I’m almost in tears when I talk about her, not because I’m sad but because I’m proud,” he said. “She’s a warrior woman and she’s trained all her life to do this. And I want other girls and other daughters to hear early training is good, self defense is good.
“My wife said, ‘All these years I thought you were nuts, but you were right.'”
“Those lessons were a chore when I was a child, but I think they really saved my life.”