A male student stabbed and wounded five people on the campus of the University of California at Merced on Wednesday, before being shot and killed by police, authorities said.
Four of the victims were UC Merced students, the fifth was a 31-year-old construction worker with Artisan Construction. The construction worker, Byron Price, was stabbed at least once and taken to Mercy Medical Center by his coworkers, according Artisan CEO John Price, who is also Price’s father.
Byron Price was one of three Artisan Construction workers remodeling the student waiting room at the Classroom and Office Building.
“They heard a scuffle in the classroom right across from where they were working and it sounded like a fight. So (my son) opened the door and the guy lunged at him,” John Price told the Sun-Star. “It got the (attacker) outside the room, away from others.”
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Price said his son is receiving treatment and is expected to recover.
Two of the five victims were flown to area hospitals while others were treated on the scene, according to campus spokeswoman Lorena Anderson.
The suspect, described as a male student in his 20s, was shot and killed by UC police, according to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, whose agency is assisting in the investigation. Warnke said officers were searching the campus for any additional victims.
Authorities have not commented on any possible motive in the attack.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has “offered assistance” with the case, FBI spokeswoman Gina Swankie confirmed.
A Merced-area law enforcement bomb squad arrived on campus around noon to search the area. Authorities said the specialty squad was dispatched as a precaution to investigate an item near the suspect’s body, but there was no specific threat.
The campus community first was notified of the attack shortly after 8 a.m. when school officials issued an alert on Twitter, advising students to avoid the area around the Classroom and Office Building.
Students arriving for morning classes found a campus on lockdown and activities canceled.
Charyea Phillips, a 22-year-old senior, was among the students walking off campus and onto the rural roads leading toward Merced. A psychology major from Los Angeles, Phillips said her campus job is located near the scene of the stabbing and she saw officers responding to the site.
“Just to see something like that happen, it could have been me,” she said. The attack is something she would have expected to see in Los Angeles, not at a small town campus like UC Merced. “That’s why I moved away from there.”
Blanca Ayala, a senior psychology major from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, said she was studying on campus when she heard about the attack. “It never crosses your mind that your life is in danger.”
School officials and law enforcement are expected to hold a news conference at 4 p.m. today.
A steady stream of cars left the campus, which remained closed. Dozens of students without vehicles walked along the country roads near the school.
The campus, opened in 2005, has approximately 6,685 students enrolled.
We will update this story as information develops.