By Cheri Mossburg and Dakin Andone, CNN
A student at the University of California, Davis was stabbed to death at a local park Saturday evening, days after a similar attack, prompting the involvement of state authorities and the FBI as police search for a suspect.
Authorities are still working to determine any possible connection between Saturday’s killing of UC Davis senior Karim Abou Najm at Sycamore Park and last Thursday’s fatal stabbing of 50-year-old David Breaux at nearby Central Park.
“Although there are common factors between these two brutal crimes, such as the brutal nature of the crimes and that the suspect likely used a knife, there are no known connections between the victims; investigators are still determining whether the incidents are linked,” Davis police said in a news release Sunday.
“The Davis Police Department is working closely with all county law enforcement partners, including the FBI and the California Department of Justice, to support our ongoing investigation,” the release said.
Tips have led police to make some arrests “on unrelated charges or outstanding warrants, although none of these individuals have been linked to the murders,” police said.
The suspect in Saturday’s killing is believed to be between 19 and 23 years old, police said, describing him as a “light-skinned male, possibly Hispanic,” standing between 5 feet, 7 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches tall with long curly hair.
The Yolo County coroner identified the victim in the Sycamore Park stabbing as Abou Najm, who was described by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May in a letter to the community as an exceptional student who graduated from Davis High School and was majoring in computer science.
May announced extra patrols on campus and the expansion of the UC Davis Police Safe Rides Program, which offers free rides and walking escorts to students moving around campus after dark. He called news of Abou Najm’s death “deeply unsettling,” especially since it so closely followed Breaux’s killing in Central Park — about a mile and a half from Sycamore Park.
The 50-year-old 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 that said he was “kind, soft-spoken and thoughtful, brilliant and selfless.”
“The death of David Breaux is utterly and completely devastating,” Davis Mayor Will Arnold said. “Many of us knew David. We talked with him. We shared in his vision for a kinder world. We connected on what it means to be human and humane.”
The Davis Police Department, meanwhile, said it “understands the uncertainty, fear and panic that is arising in the community,” adding extra officers were being deployed to patrol the areas around schools and parks.
“At this time, it is strongly recommended that the community remain vigilant, be aware of your surroundings, and call the Davis Police Department if anyone acting violent, suspicious or matching the description provided is seen,” police said.
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