Thursday, August 12, 2010

Police have arrested an Israeli in connection with a series of stabbings that left five dead in three states

Police say Elias Abuelazam has ties to the towns of Flint, Michigan and Leesburg, Virginia, where nearly 20 attacks have taken place. He was stopped at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport as he tried to board a flight to Israel. Abuelazam is an Israeli citizen and permanent US resident. Virginia police said they had been notified that the suspect was attempting to leave the country by plane. They co-ordinated with Atlanta police to have him stopped at the airport. Atlanta police said they had paged Abuelazam at the airport as he waited to board a Delta Air Lines flight to Tel Aviv. Passengers later said Abuelazam appeared tense and was stopped at the boarding gate, before being led away by six officers. Virginia police said they were confident they could place Abuelazam in their area at the time of the attacks there. They said his fingerprints matched prints from the assaults in both Virginia and Michigan. A judge in Flint had signed a warrant charging Abuelazam with assault with intent to commit murder in connection with a stabbing on 27 July, 2010. The victim of that attack, Antwoine Marshall, identified the attacker from a picture shown to him by the FBI. Police say the chain of attacks began on 24 May, 2010. Their investigations were focused on Flint, where 16 attacks took place, until police in Leesburg reported three attacks. Police in Toledo, Ohio, then reported a stabbing that appeared to be connected to the others. Investigators say the attacks follow a similar pattern - the attacker approaches mainly black men at night in urban areas, asks for directions or help with a broken-down car, and then stabs the victims with a knife. The stabbings have occurred on average about once every four days since the end of May 2010. Because the victims have mostly been African-American, police suspect the attacks may have been racially motivated.

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