UC Davis community reacts to the arrest of a former student on suspicion of three stabbings
The UC Davis community was left with many questions and some lingering fear after announcement that a former student had been arrested in connection to the three stabbings that have happened over the past week.
Isabella Pham, 20, watched Thursday’s news conference on her phone while sitting outside Walker Hall. Inside her bag, Pham had a taser that she began carrying last week.
“Me and the rest of my housemates made sure to get some protection because you never know what’s going to happen when you’re outside the house”
After hearing the suspect was a student, she wondered if school played any factor.
“Mental health is the biggest thing and I wonder what he was thinking and what sent him down this spiral,” Pham said.
Carlos Reales Dominguez, 21, was named as the suspect at the news conference that was held by Davis police and the mayor. He was said to have been a UC Davis student until April 25 when he was “separated for academic reasons,” according to UC Davis. The first stabbing happened two days later.
David Henry Breaux, 50, was stabbed to death May 27 at Central Park, UC Davis senior Karim Abou Najm, 20, was killed Saturday night at Sycamore Park. A homeless woman was stabbed multiple times on Monday. She was hospitalized but has survived.
Pham said even after the arrest she remained cautious. “Even now, I don’t feel quite safe.”
On Thursday, some students were glued to their phones awaiting any updates while they walked through campus. Others chatted among themselves, wondering who knew Dominguez. The recent string violence is particularly unusual for the college town. The Davis Police Department reported only one homicide in 2022.
Wayne Davis, 69, is a security officer from Sacramento who remained apprehensive with his eyes peeled in all directions. He and fellow co-workers had been on lookout for the suspect since a description was release.
“I’m not letting my guard down,” Davis said. “They got someone in custody, but they are not saying it’s definitely the killer. And what if there is copycat out there? This is definitely making me more aware.”
Students remain anxious
Ryan Danley, 20, finished his biology class when he received news of the arrest.
Despite being a self-proclaimed night owl, over the last week, Danley had begun making sure he got home before it got too dark.
Danley said he wouldn’t feel a return to normalcy until it was confirmed that Dominguez had committed all three stabbings.
“I’m waiting till we have it more set in stone who did all three stabbings”
Doctoral candidate calls mom
Jacob Johnson’s phone blew up with texts from friends Thursday afternoon as news began rolling in. Johnson, a third-year doctoral candidate at UC Davis, was in the midst of his office hours with undergraduate students at Katherine Esau Science Hall. Hearing the news of the suspect being apprehended gave Johnson a sense of relief.
“We obviously don’t know all the facts, but at the moment, this is a positive sign that things are going to be better.”
After finishing his office hours, Johnson took a moment to call his mom. She and other family members had been checking up on Johnson in the last week, he said.
“For me to be able tell my family that they don’t have to worry, at least for the moment, was great.”
Johnson expressed his concern for his students, whose lives were upended. Due to the stabbings, professors and teaching assistants canceled night classes or moved them online. Some daytime classes were also canceled.
Carrying a knife for self defense
Sailabala Vanguri, a human anatomy professor at Davis, was preparing to deliver a lecture as news was filtering through that a suspect had been caught. “I don’t think my lecture will be well attended,” Vanguri said. Less than a dozen students were in the lecture hall, on a typical day 120 students attend.
The professor said she was breathing a sigh of relief now that a suspect had been arrested. “A colleague told me that she was walking around carrying a knife,” she said. “That may sound extreme, but I think it was justified. People were really terrified.”
Mia Lippey, 28, is a doctoral student and a teacher assistant for first- and second-year biology classes. She said a blanket of sadness had descended on her classes.
“This made people aware of what a uniquely safe community we live in, and this really pierced that sense of safety. Downtown emptied out,” Lippey said. “... Now I’m sure that some of my students knew this person. And there is going to be a lot of processing around that.”