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Male student held in Lone Star College stabbing attacks; 14 hurt

April 09, 2013|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Matt Pearce
  • Life Flight personnel rush one of the stabbing victims into Memorial Hermann Hospital.
Life Flight personnel rush one of the stabbing victims into Memorial Hermann… (Johnny Hanson / Associated…)

CYPRESS, Texas -- A male student from Lone Star College in Texas has been arrested in connection with a mass stabbing attack on campus that injured 14 people, two critically.

The student, whose name was not released, is believed to be about 21 years old and is suspected of acting alone in what one official described as a "building-to-building" attack at the community college. 

The campus was put on lockdown and then closed for the day after the late morning attack. Twelve of the victims were hospitalized with laceration injuries, including four who were taken to the hospital by helicopter. Two declined treatment at the scene.

Officials have not identified what type of weapon was used, whether it was "a knife or other type of  instrument," Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said during a televised news conference.

The first calls to police, at 11:12 a.m. Central time, reported a "man on the loose stabbing people," Garcia said. 

Officials backed off early reports that there may have been a second suspect at the Lone Star College CyFair campus, where as many as 7,000 students attend each day.

Michael Chalfan Jr., 22, told The Times he saw the suspect run from about five law enforcement officers outside the campus Health Sciences Center before a civilian tackled him with the help of the police.

Chalfan said police then used a Taser on the suspect.

Chalfan said emails circulating among his friends included a picture of one woman, a purported victim, with a box-cutter blade lodged in her cheek.

Steven Maida, 21, who is studying petroleum engineering at Lone Star, said he was on his way to his car from the bookstore when he heard a girl screaming, "My friend got stabbed in the face."

Then he saw another girl who had been stabbed. He went into a nearby building and saw another young man who had been stabbed in the head. He ran back outside, saw police chasing a suspect, and joined in.

"He saw us coming and he ran to a building and we almost lost him," he said.

Eventually, Maida said, they caught up with the suspect near a parking lot and tackled him. He said the suspect didn't say anything and had a fold-out hunting-style knife in his pocket.

Student Jeff Demolli, 19, told The Times that students in his classroom started panicking after hearing news of the attack and that their building was locked down; he later saw four people leaving on stretchers with wounds to their necks and faces.

“Injuries were all consistent with lacerations," Capt. Robert Rasa, a spokesman for the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department told The Times.

Six victims with serious injuries were taken to a local Memorial Hermann hospital, and six victims with minor injuries were taken to the North Cypress Medical Center, he said.

"Thank God it was a knife. It could have been a gun or an assault rifle," nursing student Evaristo Terrones, 20, told The Times.

"I would like to know why he did what he did, why he went around stabbing people," said Terrones, who added that he thought the campus should have more security and that teachers should be armed. “You just never know when someone is going to attack."

Student Jonathan Clayton, 20, was in the Health Sciences Center, near where officials said the attack happened.

"It’s pretty terrifying,” Clayton said of the attack as he was leaving with his parents. But he said he would come back when classes resume Wednesday. He said that school officials "handled it perfectly."

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

matt.pearce@latimes.com

Hennessy-Fiske reported from Cypress; Pearce from Los Angeles.

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