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Student attacker identified in stabbing of 4 at UC Merced

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The male student killed by campus police after he stabbed four people at University of California, Merced, has been identified as freshman Faisal Mohammad, school officials said Thursday.

Mohammad, 18, was a computer science and engineer major from Santa Clara, California, the school said.

The FBI has joined the investigation into why Mohammad stabbed two students, one staff member, and a construction worker shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday as classes began, officials said.

Andrew Velasquez is one of three UC Merced students who shared a dorm suite with Mohammed, and he described his roommate as someone who “didn’t talk much,” Velasquez told CNN affiliate KFSN.

“Every time I would try to say something, he seemed like he’d just ignore it,” Velasquez told the station.

“I never saw him walk with anybody” to class, he said.

About Mohammad having been the attacker, Velasquez said: “Why would someone want to do that? I just didn’t expect it to be him.”

Shortly after Wednesday’s stabbing, investigators entered Velasquez’s dorm room and asked him to leave, the student said.

A Fresno County bomb squad is testing a substance found in Mohammad’s backpack, authorities said.

As of Thursday morning, one of the student victims remained hospitalized, but is expected to recover, the school said.

The staff member suffered a collapsed lung and had surgery, the school said.

The construction worker and other student victim were treated and released Wednesday, the school said.

The campus, located 130 miles southeast of San Francisco, is scheduled to reopen Thursday afternoon so that faculty and staff can access their offices, except the Classroom and Office Building where the stabbings began, school officials said.

Classes, however, remain canceled Thursday and will resume Friday.

Authorities have not released a motive in the stabbing, and it’s not known what relationship, if any, existed between the assailant and the victims, said James Leonard, a school spokesman.

Mohammed, who lived on campus, entered a classroom in the Classroom and Office Building at about 8 a.m. carrying a hunting knife with an 8-inch to 10-inch blade and stabbed one of the students, authorities said.

The construction worker, thinking it was a fight, went into the classroom and “ended up stumbling upon the stabbing in progress. I think, through his actions, that he ended up saving this student’s life,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said Wednesday.

Outside the classroom, the suspect attacked a female staff member and slightly injured the second student, Warnke said.

The suspect fled the building and was chased by two police officers, said UC Merced Police Chief Al Vasquez.

“When the suspect turned toward the officer, an officer-involved shooting occurred and the suspect succumbed to his injuries,” Vasquez said.

Warnke said the bomb squad was called as a precaution because the suspect carried a backpack.

“Events like this happen elsewhere, but not at UC Merced, which may be still small in student body but large in its sense of community — yet, it has happened,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said in a statement on the school webpage. She said the injuries to stabbing victims were not believed to be life-threatening.

UC Merced, which opened September 5, 2005, is the newest campus in the University of California system and is situated near Yosemite National Park.

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