NPC Stabbing / Mill Creek Dollar Tree Assault
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NPC Stabbing refers to the March 22nd, 2023, incident in which an 11-year-old boy was allegedly chased down and stabbed multiple times by a 29-year-old man named Joshua David Pence after he was called an NPC (a gaming and slang term for "non-playable character") by the child in Mill Creek, Washington. The event and the usage of "NPC" in the real world sparked many memes and reactions about the alleged non-fatal assault, particularly when media coverage and online discourse spiked around it in mid-April 2023.
On March 22nd, 2023, in Mill Creek, Washington, the unnamed youth (age 11) and his friend Joshua Federov reportedly shouted out to 29-year-old Joshua Pence while hanging out at the Thomas Lake Shopping Center and called Pence an NPC, which reportedly caused him to become enraged.
According to the local news station Fox13, Federov said, "He was at the crosswalk and we were on the hill at the dollar store, and then we yelled 'NPC' and he jaywalked across the street and then started chasing us into the dollar store."
While angered by the comment, Pence is reported to have begun pursuing the boys, who ran into a nearby Dollar Tree for safety. However, Pence chased them inside before allegedly stabbing one of them repeatedly with a 6-inch knife. Customers and staff at the store were then able to detain the suspect after the assault until police and Snohomish County deputies arrived shortly after. The unnamed 11-year-old victim suffered a collapsed lung but survived the incident.
News about the event quickly spread across social media platforms such as TikTok in the following days as the story went viral. For example, the TikTok post by user thecarolinadiamond on April 4th, 2023, received over 6,00 views and 270 likes in two weeks (shown below).
@thecarolinadiamond #fyp #millcreek #thecarolinadiamond ♬ original sound – Dee
As the story continued to spread online in the following weeks, it saw a large resurgence of interest around mid-April 2023.
While numerous users on social media were against the stabbing and voiced their outrage, takes also began to appear from people who ascribed the event to a classic example of "Fuck Around and Find Out," with the assault being justified in the eyes of some because of the boys insulting the adult prior to the chase down and repeated stabbing. For example, on April 17th, 2023, Twitter user @DirtMcSlime used the Roger Skaer Chart as a meme to comment on the incident, receiving over 1,800 likes in less than 24 hours (shown below).
Many other reactions in relation to the crime were on the opposite side, denouncing the man's actions or negatively commenting on the event in general. For example, on April 17th, Twitter user @TheMCZX used the Mr. Incredible Becoming Uncanny meme as their reaction and signaled that it is the "end of times" with adults being fragile enough to stab children over words, accumulating over 300 views in roughly 20 hours (shown below).
 TikTok – thecarolinadiamond
 Twitter – DirtMcSlime
 King5 – Man accused of stabbing a child at a Mill Creek Dollar Tree arrested, charged
 Fox13 – year-old stabbed outside Mill Creek Dollar Tree over reported video game insult
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Nigel the treasure hunter
Apr 17, 2023 at 06:08PM EDT
Apr 17, 2023 at 06:17PM EDT
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