Davis police working to determine if 3 stabbings in 1 week are connected as they search for suspect

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
3 stabbings in 1 week kill 2 victims near UC Davis, police say
Officials in Davis are working to uncover more information in 3 stabbings that happened in the last week to see if they are linked.

DAVIS, Calif. (KGO) -- Two people have been killed and a third was seriously injured in three separate stabbing incidents in less than a week, all near the UC Davis campus.

Police on Tuesday lifted an overnight shelter-in-place order after they were unable to find a suspect in a knife attack late Monday.

Police could not definitively say if they were connected and no suspects have been arrested as of Tuesday evening.

On Tuesday afternoon, UC Davis officials said all classes starting after 6 p.m. must be taught remotely.

And while the search is still on for any possible suspects, they're bringing in extra officers from other Bay Area campuses including UCSF and UC Berkeley for added support and say, Tuesday night alone, they will be tripling the number of officers on campus for the safety of all students.

VIDEO: Davis officials update after 3 stabbings in 1 week kill 2 victims

Davis officials say they are going through tips and working to determine if the 3 stabbings, two of which were fatal, are connected.

"Just as of today, we have worked with our academic senate to have a policy now where every class that ends after 6 p.m. will be taught remotely," Joseph Farrow, the UC Davis Police Chief said.

Swift action from UC Davis officials after a third stabbing near their campus, leaving students like 20-year-old Camille Romero understandably on-edge.

"It almost feels like a movie and everyone in our community is really scared," Romero said.

Two people have been killed, starting with 50-year-old David Breaux, found dead with stab wounds last Thursday morning in Central Park.

The second, was 20-year-old UC Davis student Karim Abou Najm, fatally stabbed in Sycamore Park Saturday night, where a memorial of flowers and notes now sits in his honor.

And Monday night, a third victim, which police describe as a woman in her 60's was brutally stabbed through the tent she was living in near 2nd and L Street, which prompted a shelter in place alert.

As of Tuesday morning, police say she is still recovering in the hospital, in critical, but stable condition.

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Chief Pytel says they can't definitively say all three stabbings are connected, but the suspect description of a man with a light complexion, curly hair, about 5'6" to 5'9" tall, with a thin or slender build, wearing a dark sweatshirt with a brown backpack, matches the last two attacks.

"The attack with knives were particularly brutal and violent," Pytel said. "These were not stabbings where a person would normally be a victim of like a robbery or something like that where there's just a couple of wounds. There were many and very significant knife wounds."

The FBI has joined state and local law enforcement in a manhunt for the suspect, which Henry said involves every agency within the county with help from neighboring counties.

"We are bringing in every resource and working around the clock to be able to solve these horrific crimes," he said, adding the public should remain vigilant. "Look out for each other, stay aware of your surroundings."

U.C. Davis Chancellor Gary S. May tweeted out a video statement on Tuesday afternoon in response to these stabbings saying the school along with law enforcement is working to make sure the community is safe.

"There are many moving parts to this rapidly-changing situation and we will have more updates for you this afternoon," said May.

"I still feel that there is some sort of very nervous and very fragile atmosphere around here," Yutian Tan, a Davis resident said.

Local parent and lecturer at UC Davis, Yutian Tan, said that's why she's taking new safety precautions.

"I ordered a pepper spray on Amazon, and then the ADT alarm system, I considered installing that," she said.

A community mourns

Authorities Monday were still probing the deaths of UC Davis computer science student Karim Abou Najm at Sycamore Park and David Breaux at nearby 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 told the affiliate. "It's just heartless, people doing things like that. Seeing someone that I know, it's just felt a little deeply. It's really sad."

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."

Meanwhile, police are fielding hundreds of tips, patrol officers have been moved into 12-hour shifts and instead of imposing a city-wide curfew, Chief Pytel is asking Davis residents to make smart choices.

"People have to make smart choices about where it is that they're going, what it is that they're doing and whether they're able to pay attention to their surroundings," Pytel said. "Of course, people should have a buddy system right now, I think that's an appropriate and reasonable response."

UC Davis has also expanded their Safe Ride program to 16 hours a day so that no student has to walk home alone for the time being.

If you see someone matching the suspect's description, you are asked to call Davis Police right away at 530-747-5400 or their crime tip line at 530-747-5460, where you can remain anonymous.

CNN's Tina Burnside, Cheri Mossburg and Dakin Andone contributed to this story

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