RUSTON, La. (AP) — Three women remained in critical condition Tuesday after what officials say was a random knife attack on a college campus in north Louisiana.
The suspect in the case, Jacoby Johnson, was taken into custody soon after the Monday morning attack outside a recreation center at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Johnson, a senior at the university, was being held on four charges of attempted second-degree murder. Neither the court clerk nor the district attorney’s office in Louisiana’s Lincoln Parish had information on whether Johnson had an attorney who could comment.
Four people were wounded in Monday’s attack. Three were hospitalized in Shreveport. A fourth, Debby Hollimon of Ruston, was grazed by the attacker’s knife, according to The Ruston Daily Leader. She told the newspaper she heard screams and saw a man attacking another woman.
“I just ran up screaming, ‘Get off her! Get away from her!’” Hollimon said. “He stands up and looks at me with no expression, just as flat as can be.”
She said the attacker had a short knife in his hand. He grazed Hollimon across the right side of her face with the knife and then walked away.
Hollimon was one of three non-students wounded after attending an exercise class at the center, according to the newspaper. Authorities identified the other victims as graduate student Dominique McKane, and non-students Cynthia Woodard and Annie Richardson.
The attack shocked students at the university with an enrollment of more than 11,000, and residents of Ruston, a small city in north-central Louisiana with a population of about 22,000.
“We’ve never really felt unsafe on the campus itself,” Tech student Abhi Chadha told KNOE-TV. “We really see it as our own playground and we see it as a very safe environment for all students. So, hearing this was very devastating for everybody.”
Louisiana Tech President Les Guice issued a statement saying the university will “continue to make safety a priority.” The university said counseling was being made available to students individually and in group settings. The university did not respond to an emailed query Tuesday about whether any security changes were being considered on campus.
Officials said Tech police received a call about the attack at 9:08 a.m. and the suspect was reported in custody about four minutes later.