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Man slashes principal's cheek with box cutter in Merced County

A school principal in Merced County was hospitalized after a man slashed his face with a box cutter on campus

A man slashed an elementary school principal’s cheek with a box cutter Thursday afternoon, then ran away, prompting a lockdown on the campus in Merced County.

Police said that two men approached Gustine Elementary School Principal Ismael Munoz about 20 minutes before the end of the school day. The men peppered Munoz with questions and said they wanted to talk about a specific student, but only used a first name.

The two men then separated for a moment, said Doug Dunford, chief of the Gustine Police Department.

“They split apart a bit and flanked him,” Dunford said, adding that one of the men then pulled the box cutter from his pocket and slashed a four-inch gash into the left side of Munoz’s face.

Dunford said no students enrolled at the school match the name the men asked about.

“It appears students weren’t targeted,” he said. “It was more of an attack toward the principal himself.”

Munoz was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. He told police he didn’t recognize either of the men.

Witnesses told police that after the attack, which happened in an outside foyer, the two men ran away. The school has surveillance cameras, Dunford said, and officers are reviewing the footage to see if the attack was captured.

Cynthia Martin, secretary to the superintendent of Gustine Unified School District, said the school was locked down about 3 p.m.

“Students were kept safe,” she said, adding that the school will be open Friday.

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