Officials in Davis have lifted an overnight shelter-in-place order after they were unable to find a suspect in a knife attack late Monday — which followed two fatal stabbings in less than a week near the University of California campus.
The warning for students not to venture out followed the killings Saturday evening of a UC Davis senior and Thursday of a 50-year-old man; both were at parks near campus.
Police received a call about the third stabbing at 11:46 p.m. Monday, according to a news release from the city, which said the attack “occurred in a known transient camp” near 2nd and L streets.
The female victim told police the suspect stabbed her more than once through a tent, the release said. She was taken to UC Davis Medical Center, where she was in critical condition.
Officers from the Davis Police Department did not locate the suspect after a “detailed search” overnight of downtown, the department said in a statement. The shelter-in-place order was being lifted, but residents were urged to “continue to be aware of your surroundings.”
City officials described the suspect as a man with curly hair, a thin build and a light complexion, between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-9. He was wearing a black or blue sweatshirt, black pants with white stripes and was carrying a brown backpack.
“The suspect matches the description of previous stabbing incidents,” campus police said early Tuesday as they announced the shelter-in-place alert shortly after the latest attack.
The FBI has joined state and local law enforcement in a manhunt for the suspect.
Extra officers were being deployed to patrol around schools and parks, the Davis Police Department said Sunday, adding it “understands the uncertainty, fear and panic that is arising in the community.”
UC Davis student Brayden Chipman, a classmate of the victim in Saturday’s killing, told TV station KCRA prior to the third stabbing that the rash of attacks was worrying.
“Definitely a bit concerning, because you never hear of this stuff happening here. It’s seen as like a safe community,” Chipman said. “It’s just really sad that a lot of students are just now fearing for their lives.”
Extra patrols also were being added on campus and the UC Davis Police Safe Rides Program, which offers free rides and walking escorts to students on campus after dark, would expand, UC Davis Chancellor Gary May announced Sunday, calling the student’s death “deeply unsettling.”
UC Davis Police announced Monday evening the school had enlisted additional personnel through a private Sacramento-based security firm.
Authorities Monday were still probing the deaths of UC Davis computer science student Karim Abou Najm at Sycamore Park and David Breaux at Central Park. Tips had led to some arrests “on unrelated charges or outstanding warrants, although none of these individuals have been linked to the murders,” city police said.
“Although there are common factors between these two brutal crimes, such as the brutal nature of the crimes and that the suspect likely used a knife, there are no known connections between the victims; investigators are still determining whether the incidents are linked,” they said.
Abou Najm’s family told KCRA the 20-year-old was coming home from an undergraduate award ceremony when he was killed.
“I want this to be his memory: a bundle of energy, a bundle of positivity,” Majdi Abou Najm said of his son. “Someone who was full of ambition, proud of his roots, who just wanted to make this world a better place.”
The computer science major had a bright future ahead of him, according to Chipman, one of his classmates, who said Abou Najm “had a lot of opportunities, research, internships.”
“Someone got robbed of their future,” Chipman said. “It’s just heartless, people doing things like that. Seeing someone that I know, it’s just felt a little deeply.”
Breaux, the first attack victim, was a fixture in the community known as “Compassion Guy,” according to a statement from the mayor and City Council that said he regularly asked passersby about their views on compassion.
“The death of David Breaux is utterly and completely devastating,” Davis Mayor Will Arnold said. “Many of us knew David. We talked with him. We shared in his vision for a kinder world. We connected on what it means to be human and humane.”
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