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.”

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