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What we know about Carlos Reales Dominguez, Davis stabbing suspect

A former UC Davis student, Carlos Reales Dominguez, is charged in a series of seemingly random stabbings that left two men dead and critically injured a homeless woman in the Northern California college town.

The attacks took place over a series of six nights, and two of them occurred in local parks, casting a pall over a city that celebrates its well-used bike paths, youth sports and ample green space. The town hunkered down in fear, with youth activities canceled, restaurants shutting early and college students sequestered in their dorms.

Homicide detectives and FBI agents streamed into Davis to assist in the investigation. Dominguez was detained by police Wednesday afternoon near a neighborhood park where the second fatal stabbing took place, after several Davis residents called police to say he matched the description provided by witnesses in two of the attacks.

Here is what we know about Dominguez and the crimes he is accused of committing.

What do we know about the suspect?

Dominguez, who was born in El Salvador, entered the country in April 2009 as an unaccompanied minor, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official. He was transferred to a family member, and his immigration case was closed administratively in April 2012.

Dominguez, who was majoring in biological sciences, had been in his third year at UC Davis until April 25, when he was separated for unspecified academic reasons, according to the university. He had no criminal record, police said.

In an interview Thursday, Dominguez’s father expressed bewilderment and shock at his son’s arrest, describing Dominguez as a loving brother and son and an accomplished student and athlete at Castlemont High School in Oakland, where he graduated in 2020.

“This is inexplicable to me,” he told The Times, adding that he was unaware UC Davis had disqualified his son for academic struggles. “He was so excited to go to Davis. I don’t understand how this could happen.”

In a blog devoted to a healthcare internship for students from diverse backgrounds that Dominguez had participated in during high school, he described his dreams of becoming a doctor to help people like his grandmother.

“I got into healthcare to help my grandmother — she has type 2 diabetes,” he said. “It makes me happy and it makes her happy, and I just love seeing her smile.”

Dominguez played football and ran track in high school, and indicated in a brief biography on the blogpost that he was devoted to his two younger siblings.

What do we know about the crimes?

The investigation began April 27, after authorities found the bloodied body of 50-year-old David Henry Breaux, a Stanford University graduate who slept in Davis’ Central Park and was known around town for his gentle proselytizing on the need for compassion. Breaux had been stabbed to death on the bench where he often slept. No witnesses have come forward in that attack.

Two days later, Karim Abou Najm, 20, a graduating UC Davis student who had recently posted to social media about his joy at finding a job as a software engineer, was fatally stabbed in Sycamore Park as he biked home from a university event Saturday night. A neighbor who responded to the scene after hearing sounds of distress described the assailant as a young man with curly hair and a thin build who fled on — and later abandoned — Najm’s bike.

On Monday night, a woman in her 60s was attacked as she slept in a homeless encampment at 2nd and L streets near the city’s downtown. She was alone in her tent when a person slashed the canvas, reached in and stabbed her repeatedly. The assailant ran off when her screams drew the help of fellow campers. She was taken to UC Davis Medical Center and is recovering after surgery.

On Wednesday, Dominguez was spotted walking through a park near where Najm had been killed on April 29, dressed in dark clothing — black sweatshirt and black track pants with a white stripe — that matched the description provided by witnesses of the third attack. With wavy shoulder-length hair and a thin build, Dominguez’s physical appearance also matched witness descriptions.

Police detained Dominguez and said they found a large “hunting-style knife” in his backpack. The weapon was consistent with one police believe was used in the attack on Breaux. Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said investigators spoke with Dominguez for hours before arresting him for all three crimes. Pytel described his manner as “reserved” but declined to reveal details of the conversation.

What is next in the case?

Dominguez was arraigned in Yolo Superior Court on Friday and pleaded not guilty.

Based on the charges and a special-circumstance allegation, prosecutors could seek the death penalty in the case. Dominguez remains in custody in the Yolo County jail on a no-bail hold.

This story originally appeared on LA Times

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