Criminal charges filed for suspect in Visalia murder, hammer attack

District Attorney Tim Ward announces criminal charges against Michael Major, after Feb. 20 attack on Nash’s Steakhouse employee, murder of another victim

VISALIA – After hitting a man in the head with a sledge hammer, and admitting to the death of another victim, the district attorney’s office filed charges against Michael Major just a few days following the crime.

On Feb. 22, District Attorney Tim Ward announced criminal charges against Major, 54, after events ensued relating to a homicide and a subsequent violent incident in Visalia two days prior. Major is charged with one count of murder with the special allegations of use of a deadly weapon, and that the incident constituted a hate crime. Against the same victim, Major is charged with sexual assault by force and assault with chemicals. Major is also charged with attempted murder against an additional victim, with the special allegations that he used a deadly weapon, caused great bodily injury and the incident constituted a hate crime.

An arraignment was scheduled for the afternoon of Feb. 22 in Superior Court. According to the District Attorney’s Office, the defendant was remanded without bail and will be going back to court for a preliminary hearing conference on March 6. A preliminary hearing will be held on March 8 in Dept. 4. If convicted on all charges, Major faces life in prison.

 On Feb. 20, at 11:52 a.m. Visalia Police Officers responded to Nash’s Steak House, 200 block of east main street for a report of an assault. Major had entered the steakhouse, ordered food and while he was waiting for his food began to wander throughout the restaurant and rear bar area. What was determined to be victim two, an employee, was sitting in a chair waiting to start his shift. Major then walked up behind victim two, removed a ten-inch sledge hammer from his person and began striking victim two in the back of his head. 

The kitchen staff was able to take away the sledgehammer and a knife from Major. When he was then able to run out the back door of the restaurant followed by kitchen staff. Major ran to Kaweah Health Medical Clinic where he was then detained by security and officers.

Photo by Rigo Moran

VPD officers were then able to question Major about the incident at Nash’s. He told them they needed to check the residence in the 500 block of north Stevenson Street in Visalia for an additional victim with injuries. Officers responded and found victim one, deceased at the residence. 

Violent Crime Detectives were called out to take over the investigation and the Crime Lab was also called out to process the crime scenes. Victim two was transported to Kaweah Health Medical Center and is in stable condition. The identity of victim one is being withheld pending notification. Major was then taken into custody and booked into the Tulare County Pre-Trial Facility for homicide and attempted homicide. 

Anyone with information is urged to contact detective Norman at 559-713-4104. Those wishing to remain anonymous can contact the Anonymous Tip Line at 559-713-4738.

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