By Juan A Lozano and Ramit Plushnick-Masti
CYPRESS, Texas — A student went on a building-to-building stabbing attack at a Texas community college Tuesday, wounding at least 14 people before being subdued and arrested, authorities said.
The attack about 11:20 a.m. on the Lone Star Community College System’s campus in Cypress sent at least 12 people to area hospitals, including four taken by helicopter, according to Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department spokesman Robert Rasa. He said several people refused treatment at the scene.
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said officers responded to the campus after receiving a call about a male “on the loose” stabbing people. He said it was not immediately clear what type of weapon was used.
“Some of the details in the call slip did indicate that students or faculty were actively responding to work to subdue this individual,” Garcia said, describing the man as being about 21 years old and enrolled at the college. “So we’re proud of those folks, but we’re glad no one else is injured any more severely than they are.”
Student Michael Chalfan said he was walking to class when he saw a group of police officers running after the suspect. He said one of the officers used a stun gun to help subdue the man, who Chalfan said he recognized from a drama class last year.
Chalfan described the man as “eccentric,” saying he often wore gloves and was known to carry stuffed animals. He said although the man was teased by fellow students, he remained friendly.
“I’m surprised because he didn’t look like he was hateful to the world,” Chalfan said.
Lone Star officials initially urged people on campus, about 25 miles northwest of downtown Houston, to take shelter and be on alert for a second suspect. But the sheriff’s department said authorities believe just one person was responsible.
“It was the same suspect going from building to building,” department spokesman Thomas Gilliland said.
Michelle Alvarez told the Houston Chronicle she saw the attacker running toward other students and tried to back out of the way. She said she didn’t even feel it as he swiped at her neck.
“He came running and swinging at my neck, as I tried to get out of the way,” she said.
Garcia said buildings still were being searched Tuesday afternoon. Long lines of vehicles carrying students and staff streamed off campus as law enforcement directed traffic away from the school.
Student Teaundrae Perryman said he was in class when he received a text message from a friend and went outside to see a young woman being loaded into an ambulance with what appeared to be stab wounds to either her neck or head. He said he didn’t receive an email alert from the college until 11:56 a.m.
“I was concerned but I wasn’t afraid because I was with a large group of people,” the 21-year-old said, later adding, “The police got to the scene very quickly.”
The four people taken by helicopter and two others with moderate injuries were taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Of those six, two patients remained in critical condition, three have been upgraded to good condition and one was discharged Tuesday afternoon, hospital spokeswoman Alex Rodriguez said.
One student said she learned one of her classmates was stabbed after leaving the school’s Health Science Center building.
“I called to check on another classmate who was still inside the building and she said the classroom was on lockdown and she said one of the classmates had been stabbed,” said Margo Shimfarr-Evans told KHOU-TV. “It happened in the hallway.”
Courtland Sedlachek, 18, was in class when his phone started buzzing along with the phones of everyone else in class. The room was temporarily locked down, but students were let out and off campus a short time later, in what Sedlachek described as an orderly evacuation.
He described his reaction as a “little bit of nervousness.”
The attack came three months after a different Lone Star campus was the site of a shooting in which two people were hurt. The suspected gunman in that incident is charged with aggravated assault.
Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant in Dallas contributed to this report.