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Two San Diego firefighters in stable condition after on-duty stabbing

Two San Diego firefighters who were stabbed while attempting to give medical aid to a man who collapsed in public remained hospitalized Thursday in stable condition.

Firefighter-paramedic Alex Wallbrett, 37, is set to be released by Thursday night, Fire Chief Javier Mainar said at an afternoon news conference. He had been stabbed multiple times.

Firefighter Ben Vernon, 32, who suffered a collapsed lung when he was stabbed in the back, will remain in the hospital for several more days, Mainar said.

The firefighters had responded to a medical aid call to help an intoxicated man who was lying on a trolley platform, San Diego police officials said. The assailant was not the man who was receiving help but rather a bystander, authorities said.

With transit police, city police and other firefighters responding, the man was subdued and arrested. Both firefighters were taken to hospiral emergency rooms.

Ryan Jones, 34, considered to be homeless, was booked into county jail on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest.

No motive for the assault has been determined, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said. The investigation is continuing, she said.

The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon in the eastern edge of downtown San Diego, an area where homeless individuals often congregate.

Jones allegedly was attempting to interfere with the two firefighters helping the downed man. He refused orders to step back and instead pulled out a folding knife and attacked, Mainar said.

Mainar and Mayor Kevin Faulconer visited both firefighters in the hospital Wednesday night. Mainar said that in his 35 years as a firefighter he has never heard of an incident that went from a medical call to an attempted murder.

"This thing went bad very, very quickly," Mainar said.

Twitter: @LATsandiego

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

3:40 p.m.: This story has been updated with the names of the two firefighters.

This story was first posted at 9:41 a.m.

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