Student who stabbed 4 at university meant to do more harm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A freshman student who stabbed four people at a California university meant to do even more harm, but he acted alone and had no connections to terrorist groups, authorities said Thursday.

Faisal Mohammad, 18, burst into his class at the University of California, Merced, and attacked a fellow student with a hunting knife Wednesday morning. He stabbed three others, including a construction worker credited with preventing Mohammad from killing anyone, before police shot him dead as he fled across campus.

Police found zip-tie handcuffs, duct tape and a hammer in a backpack near his body. It also contained two plastic baggies of petroleum jelly, which Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke called a “poor’s man” explosive if ignited.

Warnke and other officials said background checks of Mohammad and his family show the 18-year-old had no connections to organized hate or terror groups and no past behavior to suggest he would lash out violently.

“We had zero to indicate he was on anyone’s radar,” Warnke said.

Investigators also found a list of items Mohammad planned to pack in his backpack before the attacks.

“His intention was to do more damage,” school spokeswoman Lorena Anderson said. “But there is absolutely no reason to believe that this was anything more than an angry young man acting alone.”

Anderson said it’s unclear if Mohammad targeted anyone in particular in the class required of all university freshmen. All four victims are expected to survive.

Byron Price, 31, a construction worker doing remodeling work next door, interrupted the attack, rushing into the classroom to break up what he thought was a fistfight. Price said Mohammad charged at him with the knife and looked scared.

“He also looked like he was having fun,” Price, who was stabbed in the side, told the Merced Sun Star. “His eyes, I could see fear in his eyes. He was smiling.”

His college roommate called him an anti-social loner. But a high school buddy expressed shock that Mohammad stabbed four people.

“He was quiet, but he was really friendly,” Ish Patel said. “He was intelligent, too — he performed well academically.”

Patel said Mohammad enjoyed basketball, going to the mosque to pray and playing video games with his friends. He lost contact with Mohammad after they graduated from high school in Santa Clara, California, in June.

“I’m definitely shocked,” Patel said.

But Mohammad’s suitemate at college paints another portrait. Andrew Velasquez told KSFN-TV in Fresno that Mohammad, who was majoring in computer science and engineering, kept to himself.

“(Mohammad) didn’t talk much. And I never saw him walk with anybody. Walking to class, I never saw him walk with anybody,” Velasquez said.

One student remained hospitalized Thursday, and a staff member who suffered a collapsed lung was recovering after surgery, the school said. Price and a second student were treated and released.

Classes would resume Friday at the university about 120 miles south of Sacramento in the farm-rich San Joaquin Valley.

___

Elias reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writers Alina Hartounian in Phoenix contributed to this story.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Dec. 3

Gavel (Courtesy Photo / Juneau Empire file)
Judicial appointments announced

Three of the four presiding Superior Court judges have been reappointed, outgoing… Continue reading

Male harlequins earn their name with their patchwork colors. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: The colorful world of harlequins

On a cold, windy day in late November, I wandered out to… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Dec. 6

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

People and dogs traverse the frozen surface Mendenhall Lake on Monday afternoon. Officials said going on to any part of Mendenhall Lake can open up serious risks for falling into the freezing waters. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Officials warn residents about the dangers of thin ice on Mendenhall Lake

Experts outline what to do in the situation that someone falls through ice

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read