SAN JOSE -- An off-duty bouncer who was killed on a downtown street early Wednesday was stabbed in the throat when he went outside a bar to point police toward a customer who had been booted for acting erratically, according to a friend who witnessed the attack.
Tearful friends gathered at a Wednesday night vigil for San Jose resident Ryan Viri, 26, a big but even-keeled man who worked as a bouncer at a number of downtown venues.
"He was collected, calm and funny, but serious about keeping us in line," said Scott MacDonald, a downtown regular. "But at the bar, we'd give guff back and forth -- that's how it is. Everyone liked him; he had a lot of friends."
San Jose police arrested a suspect in the killing shortly after Viri was stabbed.
A crowd of those friends -- many clad in heavy metal T-shirts associated with the bar and club scene where Viri worked -- swelled to more than 100 at the First and Santa Clara Street corner where he was killed. It's about a half block from Johnny V's, the bar and music venue where Viri was hanging out when the troublesome customer was evicted.
Sean Blak, a friend of Viri's who was also at Johnny V's that night to promote a show, said the victim went outside after the customer was kicked out to make sure police -- who had been called about 10 minutes prior -- found the man.
Blak said the man had been acting "erratic and scary," and the staff believed he was on drugs.
"He had black in his eyes," he said. "He was being creepy, too forward with women. He seemed OK when he got there, so we thought maybe he took (drugs) while there."
After the man was told to leave, he harassed bouncers outside before heading down the block. Blak said the man wore chef's pants, and when he arrived, he had been carrying an attache of knives like those carried by chefs. The knives were taken away from him when he entered and were returned to him when he left.
Blak was outside when he saw his friend assaulted down the block.
"I saw the (attacker's) arm swing once and miss, then swing again and hit him in the neck," Blak said. "He went down instantly -- I think he was unconscious when he hit the ground."
Blak and others outside the club rushed to his aid, with one bouncer applying pressure in an attempt to stanch a grievous wound.
Medical personnel soon arrived and took Viri to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Blak said in the moments after the attack, a police cruiser came by, slowed, and then raced down the street after the assailant, as did a few other officers that followed. The suspect, a 22-year-old San Jose man, was arrested in connection with the killing, sources said. His identity has not been released by police.
"When cops finally arrived on scene, there were about 12 of us there trying to help Ryan," he said. "(Officers) were belligerent and rude. They didn't help us -- one of them said the bouncer was doing a good job of stopping the blood, like he didn't want to help."
Officer Albert Morales, a San Jose police spokesman, said responding officers had a difficult decision between tending to the victim, who was already being given aid, and catching the suspect and keeping him from injuring anyone else.
"You're trying to looking for victims and additional threats in a chaotic situation," Morales said. "It's up to the officer to decide how to engage. But we do use these instances to see how we can do things better."
Alex Rosas, who'd known Viri since 2005, said his friend "got along with everyone" and agreed that it was unlikely that Viri went outside seeking a confrontation.
"It doesn't seem like him to chase someone down," Rosas said. "He was a middle guy, someone who would get between people to stop a fight. The way he went out -- it's just not right."
Staff writer Robert Salonga contributed to this story. Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.