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Attacker allegedly asks victims if they're Muslim before stabbing them

Michigan man asks victims if they are Muslim before stabbing them

A man was charged with attempted murder Tuesday, accused of stabbing two people at a Detroit-area bus stop after asking if they were Muslim, police told the Los Angeles Times.

The attack happened around 10:30 p.m. Saturday at a bus stop in Southfield, Mich., a suburb of Detroit. Several people were talking with each other before the suspect, apparently a Muslim, asked the others waiting if they were Muslim, Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins told The Times.

An arraignment document obtained by The Times identified the suspect as Terrence Lavaron Thomas, 39, of Detroit.

"A couple of the people there, who turned out to be victims, said they were not" Muslim, Hawkins said. “He made some statements that he was Muslim and he did not think it was acceptable that they were not.”

(Many social-media users spreading a Detroit Free-Press version of the story Tuesday misinterpreted the story to mean the suspect was trying to attack Muslims.)

After a "back and forth," the suspect attacked one man "without provocation" with a 3-inch knife with a folding blade, Hawkins said. 

The unidentified victim, who was in his early 50s, suffered five stab wounds: one to the face, one to the neck, and three to the upper back, Hawkins said.

Another man, also in his early 50s, was stabbed in the hand trying to stop the attacker, who ran away.

Both victims' injuries were not life threatening, and the first victim was released after being treated, Hawkins said.

Police arrested the suspect within three to five minutes about six or seven blocks away, said Hawkins, who declined to provide the man's name in an interview held before charges were filed.

Thomas was charged with two counts of assault with intent to commit murder, possession of a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent and possession of marijuana, according to an arraignment document. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Before Thomas was charged, Hawkins had said the alleged attacker could "potentially" face a charge of ethnic intimidation.

Under Michigan's hate-crimes law, a defendant is guilty of "ethnic intimidation" if he or she "causes physical contact with another person" with "specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person's race, color, religion, gender, or national origin." It's a felony punishable by up to two years in prison.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica R. Cooper declined to comment, telling The Times, "We don't try our cases in the media."

A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed federal investigators were looking into the incident but declined to comment further.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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