A former student at the University of California, Davis, faces arraignment Friday in connection with three stabbings that occurred near the campus within the span of five days, leaving two people dead and the community in fear, authorities said.
The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office said it has filed two murder charges and one attempted murder charge against Carlos Dominguez, 21. The complaint alleges he “has engaged in violent conduct that indicates a serious danger to society.”
The murder charges include a special allegation he used a deadly weapon. Dominguez could face a life without parole or death sentence if convicted, due to a separate enhancement alleging he committed multiple murders, the office said in a statement.
“The decision regarding whether to pursue the death penalty will be made at a later date,” prosecutors said.
The attempted murder charge includes an enhancement for allegedly causing great bodily injury.
Dominguez was taken into custody Wednesday.
“At this point, we believe that all three (stabbings) are connected and we have evidence and information that they are and have one person responsible,” Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said Thursday, linking the three attacks for the first time.
The latest attack happened Monday night near campus and left a woman, identified by the city as Kimberlee Guillory, in critical condition. Stabbings at two parks near the campus claimed the lives of UC Davis senior Karim Abou Najm on Saturday and 50-year-old David Breaux last Thursday.
Guillory was “severely wounded” in Monday’s attack and underwent surgery at UC Davis Medical Center, where she is recovering, the chief said.
CNN is seeking attorney information for Dominguez.
Dominguez was a third-year student at the university until April 25, when he was “separated for academic reasons,” UC Davis said in a news release.
He was initially taken into custody Wednesday for a weapons violation for possessing a large knife and was placed under arrest just after 1 p.m. local time on Thursday in connection with the stabbings, Pytel said. The chief described the weapon as a hunting-style knife and said police are evaluating whether it was the same knife used in the attacks.
The university is working with law enforcement to “provide access to any and all information as part of the investigation,” its news release said.
Police are conducting a search warrant at a house where Dominguez lived with several roommates and where it appears he had been in between the stabbings, Pytel said. The roommates have been interviewed, he added.
Officials believe Dominguez is from Oakland, but they are still working to learn more, Pytel said. He is being held at the Yolo County Jail while the district attorney reviews the investigation to determine any final charging decisions, the chief said.
“I believe we have the right person in custody and I think Davis can resume life as normal now,” Pytel said.
Tipsters led police to suspect, chief says
About 15 people called police Wednesday afternoon to report someone matching the suspect description from the third attack near Sycamore Park, where the second stabbing occurred, Pytel said.
One of the callers followed the individual and led law enforcement officers directly to him. The suspect was wearing the same clothing described by a witness to the third attack and appeared to have “some physical evidence on him that might be part of the investigation,” Pytel said.
In his backpack, law enforcement found “a large knife that was consistent with the one we were looking for based on evidence from the first homicide,” which led to his arrest, the chief added.
Detectives interviewed Dominguez for “many hours” following the arrest, Pytel said. He described Dominguez’s demeanor as “reserved.”
The suspect was “compliant during the entire process,” the chief said, adding that the motive remains under investigation. He did not offer further details on what Dominguez said to police.
Pytel said the evidence collected included “blood evidence and fibers and other types of trace evidence.”
Evidence shows the victims of the attacks fought back against Dominguez, who had some injuries on his hands and wrists, according to Pytel.
A college community left on edge
The days leading up to Dominguez’s arrest saw the college community on edge, with officials ramping up security measures and urging students to be ultra-vigilant.
Police patrols on campus and around the city increased, classes after 6 p.m. were rescheduled or went virtual and the university expanded its Safe Rides program, which provides students with transportation to other campus locations or within the city from 8 p.m. – two hours earlier than its previous starting time – until 3 a.m.
On Tuesday, city officials lifted an overnight shelter-in-place order, a day after it was implemented following Monday’s attack. University Chancellor Gary S. May announced evening classes are set to resume next week.
Residents have also been mourning the two men who died in the attacks.
Breaux was a fixture in the community known for regularly asking passersby about their views on compassion, according to a statement from the mayor and City Council, which described him as “kind, soft-spoken and thoughtful, brilliant and selfless.”
Abou Najm, 20, was killed when he was on his way home from an undergraduate award ceremony, his family told KCRA.
“I want this to be his memory: a bundle of energy, a bundle of positivity,” Majdi Abou Najm said of his son. “Someone who was full of ambition, proud of his roots, who just wanted to make this world a better place.”
Elaine Lu, a recent graduate of UC Davis, was visiting campus earlier this week and said the town had always felt safe – until these attacks.
“This kind of thing never happened before. After this murder, everyone is going to be so intimidated about it. I hope the school can improve their safety,” Lu told CNN on Tuesday.