A father has died after being stabbed in the neck while his 5-year-old daughter sat in his lap, allegedly by a homeless man who is said to have attacked him at random during a family dinner.

Anthony Mele, 35, was having dinner with his daughter and his wife in the Aloha Steakhouse in Ventura, California, on Thursday night when homeless suspect Jamal Jackson, 49, came into the restaurant at around 9.20pm.

Someone had called police three hours earlier to report Jackson being disruptive in the area but police did not respond, claiming they did not have the resources at the time, reports Daily Mail.

Instead, they watched him on security cameras from afar but decided not to pursue him when he wandered out of sight because he they did not think he looked menacing, according to KTLA.

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He has previous convictions but it is not known what those are.

At 9.20pm, he walked into the restaurant and targeted Mele at random. The young father had just finished eating.

It is not known if he had his own knife or if he used one of the restaurant's to carry out the horrifying attack in front of other diners.

Homeless suspect Jamal Jackson, 49. Photo / AP
Homeless suspect Jamal Jackson, 49. Photo / AP

Afterwards, Jackson walked back out of the restaurant.

Waiters and others from the restaurant followed him outside and down to the promenade then stayed with him until police arrived to arrest him.

He is now being held in county jail on a $1.5million ($2m) bond and is charged with premeditated murder.

Mele's heartbroken friends and family are now fundraising to pay for his funeral and help support his grieving wife and daughter.

Mele's wife Hannah was also at the table. The family had just finished eating when he was attacked. Photo / GoFundMe
Mele's wife Hannah was also at the table. The family had just finished eating when he was attacked. Photo / GoFundMe

"Anthony was a wonderful father to his young daughter, loving husband, son and brother.

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"Our hearts are severely broken for his daughter and family," a description on a GoFundMe page said.

They have raised $33,000 of their $50,000 target.

Friend Ricky Giese said on Facebook: "I lost one of my best friends growing up to a random act of senseless violence yesterday." It is not clear what Mele did for work.