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Police: Ohio stabbing was a random act

By Julia Talanova, CNN
updated 8:59 PM EDT, Thu March 15, 2012
Columbus, Ohio, police officers confer at the scene where four people were stabbed Wednesday.
Columbus, Ohio, police officers confer at the scene where four people were stabbed Wednesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • There is no link between the suspect and four people stabbed, police say
  • Police: A family member says the suspect has a mental illness
  • The suspect and two of those stabbed are in critical condition, authorities say

(CNN) -- A stabbing attack in a busy downtown area of Columbus, Ohio, that left two victims and the suspect in critical condition appears to have been a random act, Columbus authorities said Thursday.

John Mallet, 37, is charged with four counts of felonious assault in the Wednesday afternoon attack, which began in the admissions office of Miami-Jacobs Career College, police Sgt. Rich Weiner said.

"There is no link between the suspect and the building or suspect and the victims," Weiner said.

Though the investigation is "still ongoing," he said, "at this time we believe this to be nothing but a random act."

Weiner said that Mallet, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, has no record in Columbus and has been living with his aunt for the past month.

"She came home about one o'clock and found him gone from the house," Weiner said. "She had no idea where he was, why he would be down there."

The attack began inside the admissions office, where three victims were stabbed, police said. It then spilled into the lobby where the fourth victim was attacked. Mallet then went outside, where he was shot several times by police officer Deborah S. Ayers, who was responding to the scene.

One of the victims, Gerald Dowe Jr., an employee of the college, was treated and released Wednesday, police said.

Donte E. Dunnagan, another employee, was in critical condition Thursday and John M. Desir, a student, was in stable condition, police said.

Jeff Maloon, an employee of the attorney general's office who was attacked in the lobby, also was in critical condition, police said. All three victims were at Grant Medical Center.

Mallet also was in critical condition, police said. He is at Ohio State University's main hospital.

Three knives were recovered from the scene, one inside the admissions office and two on the street where the suspect was shot, authorities said.

In a news conference, interim Police Chief Stephen P. Gammill called Ayers' actions "heroic" and gave a brief description of the chaotic scene.

"What I saw was hundreds of panicked people fleeing the area screaming, trying to get help for the victims," he said. "I want to send out our prayers to the victims and their families."

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