5 are dead, another 13 injured, in what appears to be a racially motivated stabbing spree that spread across three states. On Thursday, a suspect was arrested and charged with assault with intent to murder in Michigan.
A 33 year old Israeli, Elias Abuelazam, was captured Wednesday night at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta as he was attempting to board a flight back home to Israel.
The spree took place over the states of Michigan, Virginia and Ohio, but it was a tip in Michigan that lead authorities to Abuelazam.
Upon gathering pertinent information, police went to a market where he worked. There they spoke with employees and were able to view surveillance of the suspect to see if he did indeed match the description. They began to track him and discovered the purchase of a $3.000 ticket to Israel from Atlanta. His passport from Israel was expired, but his status in the U.S. was legal.
He was arrested at 10:00 pm as he boarded his flight for Israel, after Homeland Security found his name on a passenger manifest. This was one of many tips that officers from all three states have been following for the past week trying to catch the culprit.
With fourteen of the sixteen victims in Michigan being African American, and two of the three in Virginia being so, it appears that the suspect was targeting the African American men. Leesburg Police Chief Joesph Price said he believed the suspect was “selecting the victims in Leesburg based on the color of their skin”
The ages of the victims ranged from 17 to 60. All the victims were men. The suspect would ask the men for assistance and get them to come to his car. Once there he would stab them.
Abuelazam worked in the Flint, Michigan, area until he left on August 2. He told others that he was headed to Virginia. He had only been living in Flint since May.
The suspect had been arrested for failure to obey a highway sign in Arlington VA on August 5. When a prior warrant was discovered, his Blazer was impounded and a search found a knife and hammer inside. He was, however, released that day. A victim was stabbed in the area the same day, but identified a different vehicle, so the suspect’s vehicle was returned to him.
Part of the mounting evidence against him was that Abuelazam was in all three places at the time of the stabbings.
He is currently being held in Fulton County, Georgia, and is awaiting an extradition hearing.