Slain California university stabbing suspect studied engineering

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2015 12:41 PM

By Curtis Skinner

(Reuters) - The student who attacked four people with a hunting knife before he was shot dead by police at a University of California campus was identified a day after the stabbing rampage as a freshman who was majoring in engineering and computer science.

The suspect was named as 18-year-old Faisal Mohammad by Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke on Thursday. University officials said Mohammad was a dormitory resident at UC Merced, a campus of some 6,600 students in the heart of California's Central Valley.

Wednesday's attack, which sent two students, a university employee and a construction worker to the hospital with stab wounds, is under investigation by campus police, the sheriff's office and the FBI, the university said.

None of the injuries were considered life-threatening, and all four victims are expected to fully recovery, it said.

The University said Mohammad majored in computer science and engineering. Little else was immediately known about the assailant, and authorities have offered no explanation of a possible motive.

The suspect's college dorm suite-mate, Andrew Velasquez, told local broadcaster KFSN-TV Mohammad generally kept to himself.

"Every time I would try and say something he would just ignore it," Velasquez said.

The violence unfolded on Wednesday morning as Mohammad walked into a second-story classroom and attacked a fellow student with a knife, officials said.

A construction worker who was in the building and heard sounds of a struggle rushed into the class and was also stabbed before the assailant fled, officials said. Warnke said the worker's actions probably saved the life of the first victim.

Running down a flight of stairs outside the building, Mohammad encountered an academic adviser and stabbed her, before stabbing another student.

The teen was shot dead soon after by campus police chasing him along Scholars' Lane, the main pedestrian walkway through campus, officials said.

The first student stabbed remained hospitalized on Thursday, as did the staff member, who suffered a collapsed lung but was recovering after a successful surgery, the university said. The other two victims were treated and released on Wednesday.

Classes at UC Merced, the newest addition to the 10-campus University of California system and located 135 miles (220 km) southeast of San Francisco, were canceled through Thursday.

The stabbings come about a month after a gunman killed nine people and himself at a college in Oregon, in the deadliest of dozens of U.S. mass shootings over the past two years.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner from New York; Editing by Steve Gorman and Mohammad Zargham)