Byron Price heard the clamor coming from a
So Price, a contractor finishing up a construction job at the San Joaquin Valley campus, marched down the hall to enter the fray, unknowingly inserting himself into a stabbing rampage that left four people wounded, including himself.
Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke later called Price's quick thinking an act of heroism that probably saved lives by thwarting the scope of the violence.
"Byron's really good at calming people down," his father, John Price, told The Times on Wednesday. "And then if you still want to fight, well, OK, he can do that, too."
When Price opened the classroom door, his father said, a professor yelled "No!" and a man rushed toward him with a large hunting knife.
Price told his father he kicked to open the door wider. As the assailant lunged toward him, Price dropped to the ground and lay on his back, shielding his chest and face as he fought with his legs, his father said.
"I looked him right in the eye when he was coming at me," Price told his parents. "I was the last person to look him in the eye."
The suspect rammed the knife into Price's side, stabbing him near the waistline. Price managed to kick the assailant in the head, his father said. Then, the hooded man fled.
After stabbing a student and Price, the suspect escaped down a flight of stairs, trying to wound others as he ran, said Warnke, the sheriff. The assailant injured another student outside the building and then approached a female university staff member seated outside, stabbing her multiple times.
The staff member was "sitting, literally minding her own business," Warnke said.
Two campus police officers chased the suspect and shot him on a pedestrian bridge on campus, said UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland. The bridge cuts through the center of the campus, which opened in 2005 and has about 6,700 students.
"We're small," said Lorena Anderson, a school spokesman. "A lot of us know each other really well. It's shocking."
To John Price, whose son was hospitalized for his injuries and was expected to make a full recovery, that shock includes both horror and gratitude. The day's events set in as he shakily clutched his steering wheel.
"It kind of hit me," he said, "that this all could have ended badly."
Marcum reported from Merced and Hamilton from Los Angeles.