As authorities worked to establish a motive for the 18-year-old college freshman who stabbed four people on a California campus Wednesday, more disturbing details emerged about the attacker.
Faisal Mohammad, who was killed by University of California Merced police, was described by at least one witness as smiling as he slashed at victims, called a loner by a fellow dorm resident and drew praise Thursday from ISIS, which just last week released a series of videos calling for lone wolf stabbing attacks.
“May Allah accept him,” read a tweet from a Twitter account linked to ISIS just minutes after Mohammad’s name was divulged by campus authorities.
Investigators were expected to reveal more information in a news conference later Thursday morning.
“He had a smile on his face, he was having fun,” a construction worker who helped stop the attacker told CBS 47.
And a suitemate said Mohammad “didn’t talk much.” Speaking to KFSN, Andrew Velasquez said he never saw the stabber walking to class with anyone, adding, “Every time I would try and say something he would just ignore it.”
Campus police shot and killed Mohammad, a computer science & engineering major, after Wednesday’s attack. Police detonated his backpack and are testing a substance inside, KGO reports.
The four victims are expected to survive. Authorities say Mohammad was armed with a hunting knife, and that its blade was 8 to 10 inches long.
The construction worker ran into the classroom to stop the attack, saying he’d initially thought it was a fight. Byron Price, 31, was working on remodeling a waiting room when he heard a commotion and rushed to check on it.
Price told CBS 47, “It was a really big knife and he was swinging it down so I figured if I was on the ground and my feet were at him, he could get my legs and not my body.”
“I really believe he’s a hero here. I think he prevented this first student from dying,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said. “The cops on campus, oh my gosh, praise them because they stopped a threat, but this first guy, he stopped a death.”
Two of the injured had to be airlifted to nearby hospitals, and the other two were treated on campus. The incident began when the assailant used the knife to stab two people in a second-floor room around the start of an 8 a.m. class.
Warnke said the suspect fled the room after attacking the construction worker and ran down two flights of stairs to the outside where he stabbed a school employee sitting on a bench. The suspect fled the building. He was shot and killed by pursuing campus police on a nearby foot bridge.
All the victims were conscious when paramedics reached them, Assistant Vice Chancellor Patti Waid said.
Lensy Maravilla, 19, a first-year student, said she was in a biology class on the second floor of the same building, when a female student ran in.
Maravilla said the student “was crying hysterically and came in and said that she had seen somebody get stabbed, or slashed, in the throat and she ran.”
The main road to enter the campus remained closed to outside traffic Wednesday night and classes were canceled until Friday at the university, which is about 120 miles south of Sacramento in the farm-rich San Joaquin Valley. Police were allowing students who live on campus to come and go, but anxious parents waited in their vehicles at the end of the dark roadway about a half mile from the campus entrance.
Fox News’ Mike Lundin, Malia Zimmerman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.