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Stabbing investigation continues

By Carolyn McGough and Daniel Schonhaut

October 11, 2009 11:11 pm

No motive has been confirmed regarding the stabbing of a female UCLA student that took place on Thursday on the sixth floor of Young Hall.

The Los Angeles Police Department, which is heading the investigation into the attack, is holding 20-year-old UCLA student Damon Thompson in custody on suspicion of attempted murder.

According to witnesses, Thompson turned himself in to the front desk of Young Hall minutes after he repeatedly stabbed a girl in his Chemistry 30CL laboratory class. He is being held on $1 million bail and will be arraigned Tuesday.

The victim, a 20-year-old female student, is being treated at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and is expected to recover, according to a university statement.

Police have not released any information about Thompson’s background or why he would commit the stabbing, citing the ongoing nature of their investigation. Thompson’s mental condition has also not been confirmed.

According to a university statement, Thompson “was known to the UCLA student affairs office prior to the incident.” The statement did not go into details about Thompson’s history, citing privacy laws.

A teaching assistant, who asked not to be named, said he was instructed during training to inform his supervising professor about students who strike him as being potentially troubled or dangerous. The professor can then decide what actions, if any, should be taken.

The teaching assistant said he does not know what policies UCLA has in place to identify threatening students or otherwise prevent violent outbreaks from occurring. To an extent, he said, he is not sure if such outbreaks can be entirely protected against.

“I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for something like (what happened),” he said.

Police said Thompson has no prior criminal record.

A student who was working in the laboratory at the time of the stabbing said the attack occurred after class had ended.

The student, who wished not to be named due to privacy concerns, said a number of other students had stayed late to finish an epoxidation lab. He noted that epoxidation is a simple chemical reaction that requires no use of sharp objects.

Police have not said whether the weapon used in the stabbing was found in the lab or brought from outside.

The student said he did not see Thompson commit the stabbing and that it happened fast, but when he turned around, he saw the victim staggering out of the classroom.

The victim was conscious and asking for help at that time, sources present said. She bled profusely through her lab coat and passed out after a few minutes.

The student ran to help the victim as other students, professors and teaching assistants called police, applied gauze to her wounds and otherwise attended to her.

Thompson was still in the initial laboratory room during this period, sources present said. He made no attempt to follow the victim out or confront others but instead eventually walked to the third floor of Young Hall, where he turned himself in at the front desk.

An ambulance reached Young Hall at approximately 12:20 p.m., three minutes after police were called about the stabbing.

In a statement Friday, the victim’s family expressed their gratitude to emergency medical technicians and students present at the scene of the attack for their quick response.

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Carolyn McGough
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