Image: UCLA's Young Hall
Damian Dovarganes  /  AP
A female student was hospitalized after a fellow student allegedly slashed her throat in a chemistry lab in this building on the UCLA campus.
updated 10/9/2009 5:59:31 PM ET 2009-10-09T21:59:31

Blood gushed from the student’s neck and formed a puddle on the floor of a UCLA lab as instructors struggled to stanch the wound.

The 20-year-old woman had staggered across the hall, where two staff members quickly applied pressure and put gauze on her neck. Stunned students watched in horror.

“Her eyes rolled back in her head, I called out her name and told her to stay with me. She wasn’t really responding. I think she could hear me,” said chemistry lecturer Stacie Nakamoto, who had just arrived when the victim was brought in from the lab across the hall.

The victim, who has not been identified, was in critical but stable condition Thursday night and police said Friday she is expected to recover.

Police declined to comment on a motive behind the attack Thursday in a sixth-floor organic chemistry lab on the West Los Angeles campus. Damon D. Thompson, 20, was arrested shortly after the attack and booked for investigation of attempted murder.

Thompson remained in jail Friday on $1 million bail. Police were expected to submit their case to prosecutors Tuesday, district attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said.

She did not know whether Thompson had obtained an attorney.

Thompson’s relatives said he is an only child who left his mother’s home in Belize two years ago to attend UCLA. His second cousin, 17-year-old Akilah Williams, said she was skeptical that Thompson was capable of the attack.

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

'You're always on edge'
Los Angeles police Detective Alan Behnke said Thompson did not have any previous criminal history and cooperated with authorities. When police arrived, Thompson was waiting for them in an office after turning himself in, Behnke said.

Cyril Baida, a teaching assistant who was working in a lab across the hall, said he did not know the victim or the suspect but was told that they were lab partners or had worked together in a small group on projects in their lab section.

Microbiology major Sandeep Gill, 20, said the lab is the hardest part of the organic chemistry class.

“Every week you have to go to lab and finish it,” he said. “You’re always on a time constraint. You’re always on edge.”

The session was part of an organic chemistry class led by lecturer Alfred D. Bacher, who said Friday that the class can be demanding but doubted the stress was responsible for the attack.

“I’ve been teaching this class for eight years, and I’ve never had this type of problem before,” he said. '

'Could have been me'
Witnesses said the attack left the blood-drenched woman dazed and near fainting.

The woman, who had been stabbed in a busy organic chemistry lab at Young Hall, sat in a chair in Nakamoto’s lab as a teaching assistant tried to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the woman’s neck.

Los Angeles police said Friday the woman was stabbed several times. They would not say what weapon was used or if the victim was stabbed anywhere besides the neck.

UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton said he could not provide details of the attack, adding: “Everything is still under investigation.”

Lab classes were canceled Friday and counselors were available for students. Some said it seemed surreal that such violence could intrude on the normally subdued Bruin campus at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Olga Prikhodko, 20, said she had been in the lab but left about an hour before the stabbing.

“I don’t really know what to think. It’s weird it happened so close,” she said. “You’re sitting there working in a lab with these people, you think everything is fine.”

Jackie Avila, 20-year-old pre-dental student, added: “It did make me fearful. It could have been me in the chemistry lab.”

More on: University attacks

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