Sacramento, Calif., police assured reporters that the overnight stabbing of U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, one of the heroes who thwarted an attempted terror attack on a French train over the summer, was not related to terrorism.
“It’s critical that you know what this act is and what it’s not,” Deputy Chief Ken Bernard said at a press conference Thursday afternoon. “This incident is a very unfortunate altercation between two groups of folks who were enjoying the nightlife in downtown Sacramento.”
It is not, Bernard continued, “related to terrorism in any way, and we know it’s not related to what occurred in France a couple of months ago.”
CBS News was the first to report that Stone had been stabbed repeatedly in Sacramento early Thursday morning.
Defense Department officials confirmed the stabbing, and the U.S. Air Force released a statement confirming that Airman 1st Class Stone had been “transported to a local hospital and is currently being treated for injury. The incident is currently under investigation by local law enforcement. He is currently in stable condition.” Local ABC affiliate KABC reported that according to a Defense official, Stone appeared to have been stabbed while defending a friend outside a Sacramento bar.
“We believe Mr. Stone was in the area with friends last night when a physical altercation led to him being stabbed,” Bernard said, declining to elaborate on what might have sparked the altercation and emphasizing that the investigation is “ongoing and very active.”
Bernard said that the suspects, described as two Asian men wearing white T-shirts and blue jeans, fled the scene immediately after the assault in a 2009 to 2012 dark gray or black Toyota Camry. In response to questions from reporters, Bernard said there was no reason to believe that the stabbing was a hate crime or somehow related to Stone’s newfound fame.
Bernard said he could not speculate on whether alcohol played a role in the fight as he has not yet had a chance to speak to Stone, who is being treated for “non-life-threatening but very significant injuries” at U.C. Davis Medical Center.
Early reports on the stabbing did not identify Stone as the victim. A reporter on the scene for local affiliate KCRA said that according to police, a man had been stabbed several times in the torso and was not at first expected to survive. Police reportedly told KCRA that they were prepared to investigate the incident as a homicide before learning that the victim was expected to recover.
Details have continued to emerge throughout the day from reporters on the scene. Following the police press conference, Sacramento Bee reporter Tony Bizjak tweeted a surveillance video that appears to show the altercation, though the stabbing is not clearly depicted.
The 23-year-old Stone and friends Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler became international celebrities after they helped stop an attempted attack on their Paris-bound train this August. The three heroes were invited to the Oval Office for a meeting with President Obama, who called them “the very best of America” and received France’s highest honor from French President François Hollande.
Skarlatos, an Army National Guardsman-turned-“Dancing With the Stars” contestant, solicited prayers for his fellow hero’s family on Twitter Thursday.
Skarlatos lives in Roseburg, Ore., the scene of last week’s fatal shooting at Umpqua Community College.