A student at the University of Colorado was grabbed from behind and slashed in the throat by a suspect who then stabbed himself repeatedly before he was stunned by a Taser gun and captured, police said.
The random attack occurred at 9:45 a.m. on the patio of CU's University Memorial Center. It was the first day of class and the campus was busy with students and staff getting ready for a new semester.
The student, identified as freshman Michael Knorps, of Naperville, Ill., broke free from his attacker and was treated for minor injuries. He was coherent and able to talk to police after the attack. He underwent surgery at Boulder Community Hospital.
Sources identified the suspect as Kenton Drew Astin, 39, of Boulder, 7NEWS Investigators said. Astin has a history of mental illness, a lengthy criminal record and has been known to go by the alias Dylan Klebold -- one of the killers in the Columbine High School shootings, according to court records.
Astin was rushed to Boulder Community Hospital for multiple stab wounds where he was being treated in ICU.
CU police Cmdr. Brad Wiesley said the suspect had parked a Jeep Cherokee across the street from the UMC, walked to the west patio of the student center and then started screaming. Some witnesses said the man was yelling about the end of the world.
"Everyone thought he was doing a skit or something, but it ended up being real," student Cory Ravelson told the Daily Camera.
"He was waving around something shiny and sharp ... and people were walking around him," said another student.
Knorps was walking by when he was grabbed from behind and slashed across the neck, students said.
"(The suspect) jumps on his back and slices (the victim's) throat -- real dramatic-like, and just made a huge scene of it. And then the kid didn't realize what was going on. I don't think he knew what was going on either and he runs off," said sophomore Nate Solder.
A uniformed officer and a Boulder County sheriff's deputy were nearby and ran to help the victim and confront the suspect. A student said police surrounded the armed man but he refused to drop the 6- or 7-inch knife.
"What are you going to do to me? Shoot me?" witnesses quoted the man as saying to the officers.
After Astin was taken away, police then called in a bomb squad to inspect his vehicle after they spotted suspicious-looking wires inside. Police shot out the rear window and then a bomb squad member, outfitted in full protective gear, slowly opened the trunk. The wires turned out to be connected to large speakers in the rear of the vehicle and the vehicle was not deemed a threat.
The suspect claimed he had a detonator and explosives in his bag, which he had dropped near a door of the UMC, police said. The satchel was searched and also cleared.
Astin Had Worked At UMC
Boulder police said Astin worked at the UMC Restaurant until April but no background check was done.
Astin worked with the Chinook Club House, which helps assimilate mental health patients back into society. Sometimes the organization refers people to work at CU, police said.
There are seven current employees from the Chinook Club House working at CU.
"We are putting them on temporary paid leave of absence until we can do the necessary background checks on those individuals," said Chancellor Bud Peterson.
On the vehicle registration Astin listed his address as a property owned by the Mental Health Center of Boulder County. Astin's roommate said that he had lived with Astin for about a year.
"This is a mental health center housing, and we're mentally ill," said Peter Boger.
Boger said Astin worked at a courier service and used the bus to go from Denver to Boulder. The courier service told 7NEWS that Astin suddenly quit his job on Friday, saying that he was going on to bigger and better things.
Boger said Astin always paid his bills on time and was a good roommate.
"He's never made any threats to me and never threatened anybody that I know of ... He's actually a pretty straight guy. He's pretty non-violent. That's just the guy he is," said Boger. "But he does get wound up on the phone sometimes ... As far as I know, he was getting plenty of treatment."
However, Boger noted recent strange behavior. Astin had burned an upside-down cross on the wall using lit cigarettes, Boger said. In Astin's room, the words "GAS: 666" and "RODENTS" are scribbled across music sheets that sit above a music keyboard.
The home has a medical staff on site but patients or clients who live there can come and go as they please. People who live in the home choose to do so and are not ordered to live in the home.
Astin's criminal record includes charges in Longmont for attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and use of controlled substances. In 2001, records indicate Astin was found not guilty on all charges by reason of insanity.
Students Alerted; Campus Not Closed
About 30 minutes after the on-campus stabbing, authorities used a new text-message alert system to inform CU students and warn students to stay away from the UMC. The text sent out to students at 10:15 a.m. said: "From CU Police: A stabbing at UMC at 9:43 AM Suspect in custody, UMC terrace & Euclid St closed for several hours. More info later at www.colorado.edu/police."
The message was sent out to 1,299 recipients. However, some faculty members complained that CU staff were not informed of what was going on. A CU spokesman said the alert system is "opt in" and alerts were sent out to CU staff who elected to receive the text notifications.
About 200-300 people signed up for the emergency notifications after the incident Monday. To sign up for the emergency texting service, students can go to CUconnect.colorado.edu
The text-messaging system was put into place after CU officials reviewed safety measures in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings. School officials heard that communications with students was too slow so police looked for a new, faster ways to alert students in an emergency.
Police cordoned off the crime scene at UMC near Broadway at Euclid, but students could be seen walking freely along the perimeter of the area about 90 minutes after the drama unfolded.
Classes resumed as scheduled and the campus was not closed as a result of the incident.
Read more about this story on the Boulder Daily Camera Web Site.
Copyright Copyright 2007 by TheDenverChannel.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.