Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Good thing he didn't use a gun, isn't it...

Random Throat Slashing on Colorado Campus
Alleged Attacker Mentally Ill, Worked on Campus; Freshman Victim Expected to Recover

Aug. 28, 2007

The brazen throat slashing of an incoming freshman Monday shook the University of Colorado's Boulder campus on the first day of school.

Micheal George Knorps, 17, was leaving the university's student center around 9:30 a.m. Monday just days after arriving on campus.

At the same time, according to police and university officials, Kenton Drew Astin, a 39-year-old former campus employee with a history of mental illness, parked across the street from the building, exited his vehicle, began shouting incoherently and attacked Knorps.

The suspect grabbed Knorps from behind and sliced his throat, according to a release issued by the University of Colorado's Boulder. The injured student freed himself as officers from the Boulder Police Department and Boulder County Sheriff's Office responded, demanding that Astin drop his weapon.

Instead, he turned the weapon on himself. "The suspect began to stab himself with the knife and officers deployed a Taser to disable the suspect and then took him into custody," the release reads.

Both men were transported to a local hospital. Knorps, of Winnetka, Ill., underwent surgery Monday to repair a neck wound and is expected to make a full recovery, according to University Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson, who has been in communication with Knorps' family. Astin remains in the hospital with serious injuries.

Astin allegedly was carrying a backpack at the time, but early reports suggesting he was carrying bomb-making materials turned out to be false.

The attack in Boulder happened less than five months after 32 students and faculty were killed at Virginia Tech by Seung-Hui Cho and just a week after the student body returned to Blacksburg, Va., for the first time since the massacre.

A Virginia Tech panel investigating the rampage last week recommended a series of security reforms in its internal report that included closer monitoring of mentally troubled students and improving campuswide communications during security incidents.

In the Boulder attack, the university sent out a text message at 10:20 a.m. to approximately 1,300 students, parents, faculty and staff enrolled in a service activated on the campus less than a week ago.

University administrators have urged members of the community to sign up for the text messages as a security precaution. After the killings at Virginia Tech, college campuses across the country established such messaging programs.

University of Colorado officials released as much information as possible to the public as details about the suspect emerged.

Late Monday, the university announced that Astin had worked without incident for the university as a temporary employee from October 2006 until April 2007. He was a cashier at the grill inside the building near where the stabbing occurred.

Astin had a criminal record and a history of mental illness. In 2001, according to the university, he was charged with larceny, assault and criminal intent to commit first-degree homicide. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sent to the state mental hospital in Pueblo, Colo. For the last two years, he worked under a Boulder-based release program, which referred him to the university for his campus job.

Peterson, the university chancellor, immediately ordered criminal background checks for all new employees, permanent or temporary, as well as checks of existing employees.

The university also suspended its relationship with the program that had referred Astin, as well as other similar agencies, and placed seven current campus employees referred from the program on suspension while conducting further background checks.

"All campus resources have been called into action to respond to this random incident and to ensure the safety of our students and everyone on campus," Peterson said. "We are relieved that the student was not more seriously injured."