French train hero and Sacramento native Spencer Stone was stabbed in midtown Sacramento early Thursday following a dispute between two groups of people on K Street, but police emphasized that he was not targeted because of his worldwide fame.
Stone was stabbed multiple times and taken to UC Davis Medical Center, where he was listed in serious condition. Police said he sustained significant injuries but was expected to survive.
“This incident is not related to terrorism in any way, and we know it’s not related to what occurred in France months ago,” Sacramento Deputy Poice Chief Ken Bernard told reporters Thursday morning.
Instead, police said the incident began as a dispute between Stone’s group, which consisted of a male friend and three women, and another group or two and possibly three men.
“It’s believed that Mr. Stone was out in the area with a group of friends last night when a physical altercation led to him being stabbed,” Bernard said. “Immediately after the assault the suspects fled the scene.”
Police believe the suspects, wearing white T-shirts and jeans, fled in a dark gray or black 2009 to 2012 Toyota Camry.
Stone’s group was drinking in bars along the mall, including the Badlands Dance Club at 20th and K streets, but Bernard said officers had not yet spoken to Stone and did not know if he had been drinking.
Bernard would not give details on what sparked the altercation, saying police have an active investigation under way.
“The assault does not appear to be a random act,” he said. “It’s believed to be related to a nightclub incident.”
“There was a dispute that led to the altercation,” he added. “There was conversations and then it continued down the block to where the stabbing occurred.
“It would be wrong to believe this had anything to do with the bar.”
Security camera video taken from a nearby liquor store shows a group of about eight men in a wild melee and one of the men, apparently Stone, suddenly sporting what appears to be a large blood stain on his shirt front. The stabbing is not visible, and police said no one else suffered injuries.
A passerby called police to the scene at 21st and K streets at 12:46 a.m., and Sacramento fire paramedics rushed Stone to UC Davis. Authorities initially thought Stone might die from multiple stab wounds, but doctors were able to save him. Stone’s parents were at the hospital Thursday and the family issued a brief statement.
“The family of Airman Spencer Stone appreciates the outpouring of love and support. Airman Stone is in serious condition. His family requests that the media respect his right to privacy at this time.”
Police emphasized that they do not believe the attack was a hate crime or related in any way to the incident in France over the sumer in which Stone and two friends subdued a terror suspect on a train.
Detectives were at various spots along the mall Thursday and were looking for possible video recordings from area security cameras.
John Yoon, manager of A& P Liquors, at 21st and K streets, said police told him they wanted to obtain a copy of his store’s security camera recordings and detectives were on scene this morning.
Store employee Bryan Romandia described what he saw on the video.
“It pretty much just shows the fight in the middle of the intersection,” Romandia said. “It looks like it is one against six, but you can’t really tell. It looks like a big old scrum and then it looks like someone lunges and everyone disperses from there and there is this discoloration on his shirt and he just walks out of the camera. “He walks away from the intersection. I couldn't see any weapon at all. You could see something on his shirt but couldn't really make out what it was.”
The incident sparked a tidal wave of reaction on Twitter, with the Air Force tweeting, “Please keep him and his family in your thoughts.”
Stone, Alex Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler are three friends who were hailed as international heroes after thwarting a gunman armed with an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in August. They since have visited President Obama in the Oval Office and were honored by a parade in Sacramento.
“We’re all sending support to Spencer this morning for his speedy recovery, and Sac PD is actively investigating exactly how this came about,” Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents midtown, wrote on his Facebook page.
Councilwoman Angelique Ashby wrote on Twitter that it was “deeply disturbing to wake up to news that one of our heroes was stabbed last night. Police investigating as we speak. Thoughts & prayers.”