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Mystery surrounds attack at UCLA chemistry laboratory [Updated]

Ucla

Detectives investigating the case of a UCLA student who allegedly slashed the throat of a classmate have still not discovered what prompted the violence, law enforcement sources told The Times today.

Investigators said they are continuing to examine the background of the suspect, Damon Thompson, 20, but nothing so far points to a motive for what the sources called an unprovoked attack that stunned the UCLA campus.

The sources said police have found one interaction between Thompson and law enforcement, in which he called police to complain about neighbors who were making too much noise.

The source spoke on the condition that they not be named because the investigation is ongoing.

The victim is recovering at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after emergency surgery. UCLA officials said they were awaiting her permission to release her identity and that campus spirits were buoyed this morning by reports that she is out of the most extreme danger.

[Updated at 2:45 p.m.: The UCLA released the following statement on behalf of the victim's family: "The 20-year-old victim of yesterday's stabbing on the UCLA campus is showing signs of improvement, and her surgeons expect a good result as she continues to heal. Her parents wish to express their thanks to everyone for their concern, and also wish to extend their gratitude to the police and emergency responders and appreciation to the UCLA medical team for the excellent medical care she is receiving at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center."]

“She is doing really well, given the extent of her injuries. She continues to improve,” said one person familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified because of privacy issues.

Both Thompson and the victim were seniors, and some witnesses said they believed they were lab partners.

Thompson is an only child who left his mother’s home in Belize two years ago to attend UCLA and frequently stayed at relatives' tidy brown home in Fontana with a basketball hoop in the driveway.

Those relatives were in disbelief today that the mellow young man who raided their refrigerator could commit such a violent act. Thompson's second cousin, Akilah Williams, 17, said she was shocked when she heard the news and couldn't believe he was responsible.

“He cares about what people think about him too much,” Williams said. “He gets stressed out but that doesn’t mean he’d do something crazy.”

Thompson is accused of slashing the neck of a 20-year-old woman Thursday afternoon in a UCLA chemistry lab. The attack on the sixth floor of Young Hall prompted a swift police mobilization. Thompson, who was arrested inside Young Hall minutes after the attack, was booked on suspicion of attempted murder. Police are searching for a motive.

Relatives described Thompson as mellow though sometimes “snooty” about his possessions. Williams said her only complaint about her cousin was that he occasionally raided the fridge.

“He would eat everything,” she said. “I mean everything.” Thompson had no other family in the United States, so he would spend school breaks, including all of last summer, at the Fontana home of his mother’s cousin.

Relatives said they had never seen their cousin become violent. “He was even nice to my dog, Doc,” said Jabari Williams, 16, another cousin. 

Thompson is expected to be arraigned next week. It's unclear whether he has retained an attorney.

-- Robert Faturechi in Fontana, Andrew Blankstein and Larry Gordon in Los Angeles 

Photo: UCLA students wait to be interviewed by police after an attack on a female student at a campus chemistry lab Thursday. Credit: Spencer Weiner  / Los Angeles Times

More photos from the scene > > > >

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Comments () | Archives (30)

What the hell is that suppose to mean?.........he had to be black??....that means only Black people kill??...Maybe that's what drove him to do that act because of people like you, judging, taunting, teasing, and being prejudice ...granted its not right what he did, I'm not supporting what he did; that was totally wrong. U don't know him, but at the same time you judge him by the color of his skin??...

GENERAL

I understand that you all are outraged at what has happened and believe me, the country of Belize is also. We are saddened about it but at the same time we cannot and should not be crucified as a country. We have outstanding students in U.S. We are not to be judged by one student who obviously had issues or problems. It is not right for Americans to crucify immigrants on a whole; this was one guy, not countries.
Belize has been know to be the jewel of the Caribbean, we are tiny, a speck next to the United States. Many tourists come here to visit our luscious rain forest, ancient Mayan ruins and much more. We are not mad because Americans come here,and some do bad things here, but we dont cruicify the entire country, it was just one bad apple. we have many students here from the U.S. and even people who have come to retire here. So who are you to judge us by what one disturbed student did? Many of us got to the U.S. to study and the question about how can we afford such schools. This is because we work hard, we get loans, our parents work night and day to give us the best education they can afford. Is that wrong? NO!....that just shows you all, that we have dreams, goals, and the ambition to do the best in life.
So quit with the racism and try to understand that it was a disturbed student, not a disturbed country.
Oh and if i am not mistake, The U.S. has more people that have done worse, that are Americans, but for you all it must be fun to pick on a tiny country.
So look at your country first before u pass judgment on others. And as for the writer James Buchanan
complaining about the jobs in the U.S. being taken by immigrants, if most Americans, not saying all, would not be so damn lazy, then maybe they would have a job.
So again my plea is for the American Media to quit with the racist remarks, it is unacceptable and not called for. You need to be more professional
The People of Belize continue to pray for the victim and her family.

I know what Damon did was wrong. But from other sources, it was mentioned that Damon was a perfectionist, a straight A student, technically a genius in his studies in Belize. Kathy on the other hand was a not doing so well in her studies and had to be assigned to Damon. This leaves Damon to do most if not all the work. She was a practical drawback on him. In addition to not performing well, Kathy along with her friends keep teasing him and giving him a hard time and also bothering him during exams. Damon made several complaints to the university about the matter and the university did nothing. This has been going on for about 6 months and nothing has been done. I guess this was Damon’s breaking point where he just cracked under pressure. I guess he could not hold it anymore and did what he did. According to sources, after the incident, he went to the secretary’s office and reported what he did and told the secretary to call the cops.

I know what Damon did was wrong. But from other sources, it was mentioned that Damon was a perfectionist, a straight A student, technically a genius in his studies in Belize. Kathy on the other hand was a not doing so well in her studies and had to be assigned to Damon. This leaves Damon to do most if not all the work. She was a practical drawback on him. In addition to not performing well, Kathy along with her friends keep teasing him and giving him a hard time and also bothering him during exams. Damon made several complaints to the university about the matter and the university did nothing. This has been going on for about 6 months and nothing has been done. I guess this was Damon’s breaking point where he just cracked under pressure. I guess he could not hold it anymore and did what he did. According to sources, after the incident, he went to the secretary’s office and reported what he did and told the secretary to call the cops.

I don't know neither of the persons involved in this horrendous incident that took place in the Chemistry lab at UCLA, however I have this feeling that Damon's action, although morally wrong, was one of fustration probably due to social isolation, commonly involved with being an outcast or underdog. FYI, I am not justifying his action; I'm just being the devil's advocate. Also, keep in mind there is still a question of his mental health, which I think he should be evaluated for. Whatever the issue may have been that initiated this traumatic incident; however as a student at UCLA I do understand the social pressures at an institution such as UCLA.
Unfortunately, I think this incident may create a bit of a difficulty for Belizean nationals in the future wanting to gain admission into the institution. UCLA is very classist, socially stratified and elitist. It's an institution of socialites and boost of its prominence. Sadly, Damon had no idea what he was getting himself into, but he had ambition, which made him go against the grain and decided to try a prominent institution out west instead of the common choices (to most Belizean Internationals) in Florida or Texas. Jokingly, the only Belizean national that can probably handle the social pressures of an institution such as UCLA is the Ashcroft’s (if you consider them Belizean, but they technically are, right? hahaha).

 
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