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November 04, 2015 09:00 PM

The stabbing rampage that left four people injured at the University of California, Merced and the alleged suspect shot to death started off in a second-floor classroom, police say.

The assailant, who has not been identified but is described as a male student in his 20s, stabbed the first student during an altercation using a large hunting knife around 8 a.m. in the Classroom and Office Building Wednesday. He then stabbed a construction worker who came inside the classroom to break up what he thought was a scuffle between students.

“I think through his actions the contract worker saved that one student’s life,” said Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

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Warnke said the suspect fled down two flights of stairs and then stabbed a university staff member twice while she was sitting outside on a bench.

“She was literally minding her own business and he came up behind her and stabbed her front and back,” he said.

The assailant stabbed another student outside the building before he was confronted by two university police officers, and shot. The eight-to-10-inch, fixed-blade hunting knife was discovered four feet from the suspect’s body.

“We are fortunate it was not worse and we thank our UC Merced police officers for their quick and heroic actions in ending this situation quickly and gaining control of the crime scene,” UC Merced police chief Albert Vasquez said.

Warnke said the attacker was a California resident who lived on campus and had no prior arrests with the sheriff’s department.

UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said two of the victims were flown to a hospital in Modesto for trauma treatment.

“The injuries to the victims have not been life threatening,” she said.

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