Investigators puzzled by brutal slashing of UCLA student, still searching for motive

Investigators piecing together what led to the brutal slashing of a UCLA student by a fellow student in a chemistry lab were still searching for a motive in the puzzling attack.

The alleged assailant, Damon D. Thompson remained in jail Friday on $1 million bail and was scheduled for arraignment Tuesday. Authorities did not know if he had obtained an attorney. He was arrested shortly after the attack Thursday and booked for investigation of attemped murder.

Stunned students watched in horror as blood gushed from the student's neck, forming a puddle on the chemistry lab floor as instructors struggled to stanch the 20-year-old woman's wound.

“Her eyes rolled back in her head, I called out her name and told her to stay with me. She wasn't really responding. I think she could hear me,” said chemistry lecturer Stacie Nakamoto.

The victim, who Nakamoto and police would not identify, went to the hospital in critical condition. On Friday, her family released a statement saying she was showing signs of improvement and was expected to recover.

The relationship between Thompson and the victim wasn't clear, but Detective Mike Pelletier said they were not romantically involved.

Cyril Baida, a teaching assistant who was working in a lab across the hall, said he did not know the victim or the suspect but was told that they were lab partners or had worked together in a small group on projects in their lab section.

Immediately after the attack, Thompson walked into the student information center three floors below.

“He was very calm and said he had stabbed someone,” said Carol Verduzco, an administrative assistant who works in the office.

She said she asked if he was joking and then she called the police. Thompson waited in a chair for the few minutes it took police to arrive.

“I was in shock,” Verduzco said, noting she saw no blood on Thompson.

A knife was recovered at the scene, a laboratory on the sixth floor of the Young Hall chemistry and biochemistry department in the heart of the university on the west side of Los Angeles.

UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton said he could not provide details of the attack, adding: “Everything is still under investigation.”

Thompson's relatives said he is an only child who left his mother's home in Belize two years ago to attend UCLA. His second cousin, 17-year-old Akilah Williams, said she was skeptical that Thompson was capable of the attack.

“He cares about what people think about him too much,” Williams told the Los Angeles Times. “He gets stressed out but that doesn't mean he'd do something crazy.”

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsUS UCLA Stabbing

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A health care worker receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020. (Courtesy SFgov)
SF to open three large sites for COVID-19 vaccinations

Breed: ‘We need more doses. We are asking for more doses’

Tongo Eisen-Martin, a Bernal Heights resident, named San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tongo Eisen-Martin becomes San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate

Bernal Heights resident Tongo Eisen-Martin has become San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.… Continue reading

Homeless people's tents can be seen on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner)
Statewide business tax could bring new funds to combat homelessness

San Francisco could get more than $100 million a year for housing, rental assistance, shelter beds

The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco (a mural by artist Jamie Treacy is pictued) has a lineup of free online programming including activities for youngsters scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18. (Courtesy Demetri Broxton/Museum of the African Diaspora)
Stanford, Museum of the African Diaspora host MLK Day activities

Online offerings include films, music, discussion

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presides the US House of Representatives vote on the impeachment of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol, January 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. - The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on January 13 opened debate on a historic second impeachment of President Donald Trump over his supporters' attack of the Capitol that left five dead. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
House votes 232-197 to impeach Trump a second time

Focus shifts to Senate, where McConnell has signaled he may not stand by president

Most Read