Witness regrets not reporting knife in Naperville bar

  • Daniel J. Olaska

    Daniel J. Olaska

 
 
Updated 3/3/2015 10:33 PM

A Romeoville man testified Tuesday, in the trial of Daniel Olaska, that he wishes he would have alerted authorities when the Naperville man pulled a knife on him in a bar, 25 minutes before Olaska is accused of going on a stabbing "rampage."

John Reynolds, 24, said he was waiting to order a drink at about 12:20 a.m. on Feb. 4, 2012, at Frankies Blue Room in downtown Naperville when Olaska, 30, approached him from behind. Reynolds said earlier in the night, he had been dancing with a woman, Sarah Schwenn, when Olaska cut in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Olaska's behavior, he said, led him to believe Schwenn was Olaska's girlfriend.

"I said 'Hey, if you're with (Schwenn) or that's your girlfriend, I apologize for dancing with her,'" Reynolds said he told Olaska. "(Olaska) reached into his right pocket with his right hand and put a knife across his chest and said 'I have it covered' or 'It would taken care of' or something to that effect."

Reynolds said he was shocked and scared but only told a woman standing next to him at the bar. About 25 minutes later, at 12:45 a.m., Olaska is accused of stabbing 24-year-old Spring Brook Elementary School teacher Shaun Wild in the heart with a pocket knife after stabbing Wild's friend, North Central College football player Willie Hayes, during a brief confrontation.

Olaska is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon.

Prosecutors say Olaska stabbed Hayes in the chest with a 3-inch folding knife after a brief but heated argument in a booth where they both were seated.

Wild -- a 2011 North Central College graduate and second-grade teacher in Naperville -- was stabbed in the heart when he tried to intervene, authorities said. Olaska then stabbed and injured bouncer Rafael Castenada as bar staff members attempted to hold him for police, prosecutors said.

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Reynolds said he was in shock when Olaska showed the knife but didn't want to make a big deal out of it.

"I thought he was just being a tough guy defending a girl he liked or a girl he was with," Reynolds said.

When pressed further by defense attorney Jeff Kendall about why he never told a bartender or a bouncer or called 911, Reynolds said he wishes he would have. Judge Kathryn Creswell did not allow him to elaborate when Assistant State's Attorney Demetri Demopoulos asked him why he wished that.

Prosecutors said Olaska's "nightmare slashing, stabbing rampage," was triggered by a night of "rejection" and "humiliation" after his advances were rejected, first subtly, then bluntly, by Schwenn.

Schwenn testified Tuesday that she and Olaska talked, had drinks, and shared a dance or two but she eventually thanked Olaska for the drinks and conversation but said she was more interested in hanging out with other friends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"He was pretty handsy (while dancing) but he otherwise seemed fine," Schwenn said.

Sometime later, Olaska was seen arguing loudly with another woman at the bar and causing a scene.

Defense attorney Ernest DiBenedetto, however, argued the confrontation had nothing to do with Schwenn's rejection. Instead, he said, Hayes was sent to the booth to "lay down the law" to Olaska and "hovered" over him while Wild and other football players surrounded him.

"Dan took one stab (at Hayes) to get away," DiBenedetto said. "He didn't come in to hurt anyone. He only reacted out of fear."

Olaska's trial continues at 9:30 a.m. and is expected to last at least a week.

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