In less than a fortnight, a college town in Northern California has been rocked with a series stabbings that have left two dead and another critically injured.
Police in Davis, Calif. - a city of 70,000 west of Sacramento - have asked the public for help after a man, 50, was found dead in Central Park with stab injuries on Thursday. Two days later a University of California Davis student was found dead in another park with stab wounds.
On Monday night, a woman who was sleeping near railroad tracks east of downtown suffered serious injuries in the latest attack. The woman reported that her tent wall had been stabbed in a 911 call made just before midnight. Witnesses said they saw a man running away from the scene. The woman was hospitalized on Tuesday and is in a critical but stable state.
The police have said that it is unclear whether the three stabbings were all committed by the one person. However, descriptions given by witnesses are very similar. Authorities are looking for a young, thin man with curly hair, who is between 5'6" and 5'9", wearing a black Adidas sweatshirt, and a dark sweater.
The stabbing on Monday night triggered a "shelter-in-place" order across the U.C. and in the city. Davis campus that lasted from just before dawn Tuesday, as officers searched the community's yards and streets with drones and dogs.
Davis' Lieutenant Beckwith stated that homicides are 'extremely uncommon'. The website of the Police Department shows that the most recent homicide within city limits was a domestic violence incident in late 2019.
Darren Pytel, the Davis Police Chief, said in a press conference held on Tuesday that he had been with the department for 40 years. He urged people to be cautious after dark and not go alone into places with poor lighting. This is different.
David Henry Breaux was killed in the first attack. A Stanford University graduate, Breaux slept outside and had undertaken a project called 'Compassion guy' where he asked the public to define compassion, usually at the farmers market located at the park, where he died. A passerby found Mr. Breaux's dead body on a bench in the park at 11:20 am on Thursday. He died from multiple stab injuries, according to emergency medical personnel.
Karim Abou Najm, a 20-year-old senior majoring in computer science from U.C., was killed by the attack on Saturday. Davis had posted on social media that he was excited about his upcoming graduation and research.
Lieutenant said that the son of a professor, Mr. Najm, was killed in Sycamore Park at 9:14 pm in a residential area, which was not far from campus.
He said that a resident heard a disturbance and went to investigate. They found the victim lying on a concrete path, while a man fled the scene. The attack was brutal and similar to the previous one. The victim had been stabbed several times.
Chief Pytel stated that the witness had exchanged a few words with the attacker and was working together with detectives on a sketch for police.
Davis, a wealthy, liberal community located 15 miles away from the state capitol, is well-known for its public schools and civic activism, as well as an extensive network of bicycle paths. 'This town is one where everyone knows each other', Lieutenant Beckwith stated.
Lucas Frerichs is a former Davis mayor and Yolo County Supervisor. He said, "Everyone's worried, scared, and in total shock."
He searched for the right words to describe what was happening in his community. He was one of the gentlest, most peaceful people you will ever meet. Karim Abou Najm - also peaceful and gentle. Also promising. He was born and raised here. A homeless woman is so vulnerable. And the violence in these attacks.
Lieutenant Beckwith stated that evidence collected from the crime scene was being processed by the F.B.I. California Department of Justice and other police departments from Sacramento and Yolo counties were called in to help with the investigation.
He said, 'We're all on deck'.