Wednesday, 4 November 2015

4 stabbed on UC Merced campus; suspect killed by police

Classes canceled after stabbing in front of building on campus                      MERCED, Calif. (KCRA) —Four people were stabbed on the UC Merced campus Wednesday morning, and the suspect, who was a student, was shot and killed by police, according to university officials.                                                                Merced County Sheriff-Coroner Vern Warnke said the suspect's identity has been tentatively confirmed. Warnke said he is waiting to notify next of kin, who are out of this area, before the identity is released.

UC Merced originally said five people were stabbed, but issued a correction via Twitter at 2 p.m., lowering the number of victims to four. The victims included two students, a staff member and a contractor.
All those attacked at the campus were conscious when paramedics reached them, Assistant Vice Chancellor Patti Waid said. Two victims were taken by helicopter to hospitals, but their conditions were not immediately known, officials said.
All of the victims are expected to recover, UC Merced officials said.
One of the victims was identified as 31-year-old Byron Price by his father John Price. The father said his son, a construction worker and contract employee at the campus, heard a fight in a classroom. When he went to the door, he was stabbed in abdomen by a man leaving the room.
Byron Price received nine staples for his stab wound and was discharged from the hospital.
John Price said his son told him that the suspect was wearing a hoodie and carried a 9-inch kitchen knife.
The stabbing happened during an 8 a.m. class in the Classroom and Office Building. Warnke said the suspect attacked another student with a fixed-blade knife. It is unknown why the suspect attacked the other student.
The noise from the attack drew Byron Price to the classroom. Warnke said because the contract employee walked into the class during the attack, he helped save the student's life.
The suspect stabbed Byron Price, ran from the classroom on the second floor and down the stairs. He then encountered another student, stabbed the person and ran out of the building.Warnke said the suspect ran across the street and came upon a faculty member. The suspect stabbed her in the back and front then continued to run.
UC Merced campus police then confronted the suspect. Officers shot and killed the suspect when he continued to threaten the police.
The bomb squad was called to the scene because the suspect was carrying a backpack with unknown contents, Warnke said.
The campus was locked down as officers worked to contain the situation.
"Campus is locked down. Do not come to campus. If you're on campus, stay where you are," UC Merced tweeted about 8:50 a.m.
Hundreds of students were already on campus when the stabbing happened, but the university sent alerts telling students and staff to shelter in place.
Classes were canceled for the rest of the day, and the campus was closed. Officials tweeted just before 1:45 p.m. that campus will also be closed Thursday. Normal operations will resume on Friday.
Student Alex Lopez said there was an eerie, unsettled atmosphere on campus in the moments following the deadly incident.
Lopez said he was listening to a podcast on his way to class when there was a break in the talking around him, and then he heard a gunshot. He added that students gathered in groups to talk about what was happening, and many were left feeling frightened and uncertain.
Other students told KCRA 3 they were shocked to learn something like this would happen on their normally quiet campus.
"It's unbelievable that it happens to your campus," student Yazmin Lopez said. "It's really hard; it's difficult to believe. It's emotionally bad."
Students, faculty and staff were eventually allowed to leave campus but were asked to avoid Scholars Lane. Anyone who needs transportation to leave campus could use CalTracks buses at the corner of Mammoth and Ranchers road, campus officials said.
People are advised to contact UC Merced's emergency hotline at 209-228-4400 or visit theemergency website for more information.
Counseling and Psychological Services are available to students affected by the incident. Students are asked to call 209-228-4266.

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