Police are uncertain as to whether they are searching for one or two fugitive murderers following the Saturday night stabbing death of a second individual.
The victim was identified as Karim Abou Najm, 20, a UC Davis senior and Davis High School class of 2020 graduate.
According to his family, he was on track to graduate from UCD this spring with a degree in computer science and had just won an award for a software project that would assist individuals with hearing impairments.
His father, UCD professor Majdi Abou Najm, said in a brief interview on Sunday, “He is the kindest, most loving, and one of the smartest children I’ve ever met.” “He was looking forward to graduating and starting his future.” The police have detained a suspect on unrelated charges and are investigating whether he is also culpable for one of the homicides.
“At this time, we do not have sufficient physical evidence, statements, or identification to link him to the crime,” Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said in a Sunday afternoon interview. “However, we are continuing to investigate this avenue.” “There were sufficient similarities for us to conclude that further investigation was required.”
The most recent fatality occurred at 9:10 p.m. on Saturday, just three days after the murder of David Henry Breaux in Central Park.
This incident also took place in a park — Sycamore Park, on Sycamore Lane near Colby Drive, where a resident reported hearing “what sounded like a disturbance,” according to Pytel.
This resident, who requested anonymity out of concern for his safety, told The Davis Enterprise on Sunday morning that he was in his bedroom around 9 p.m. when he heard a disturbance.
“I heard a person say, ‘Oh my god, oh my god, somebody help me,'” he said. Initially, he believed someone was partying or “goofing off,” but then he realized “this sounded different. They sounded extremely distressed or fearful.”
As he approached the park to investigate, he saw two persons on the ground along a bike path on the park’s side and assumed that two cyclists had collided along the path’s darkness.
“As I approached, I activated the flashlight on my phone and asked if they were okay,” he explained. At that time, one of the individuals stood up, grabbed a white hat and a bicycle, and headed west on the path towards the Highway 113 cycling bridge.
“I chased him for a bit,” the man said, perplexed as to why someone would flee a collision site. “I was approximately 10 feet away from him when he asked, ‘What do you want, man? Leave me alone.’ ” He had turned his head to the side, revealing his profile to the witness.
The individual “sounded like a kid” in his late teens or early 20s, the man said, at which point he ceased pursuing him. When he turned around, he observed the victim covered in blood.
“He lacked consciousness. “He was having trouble breathing,” said the man who called 911 and promptly began CPR after removing the victim’s already-removed backpack.
While he was administering chest compressions, a woman who had also heard the victim’s pleas for assistance arrived on the scene and lifted his legs to direct blood flow to his torso.
The man recalled telling the victim, “Come on, buddy, you’re going to be fine,” as he recalled the conversation.
Moments later, emergency personnel arrived on the scene and took over the futile lifesaving efforts.
The hunt continues
The suspect was described as a light-skinned male in his late teens or early 20s, possibly Hispanic, with long, curly, unkempt hair. He was last seen donning a white hat, a light-colored T-shirt, and a light-colored button-down shirt over it.
He fled the scene on a bicycle with straight handlebars for males. Later, police discovered it on the west side of Highway 113 and identified it as Najm’s. It is currently being examined for potential physical evidence.
The witness clarified the suspect description by stating that he does not believe the suspect is necessarily Hispanic, but that he could have been caucasian or of mixed ethnicity, with very fine, dark, spiral-curled shoulder-length hair.
“This was a very aggressive crime,” the man said, which was unusual not only because of the brutality of the stabbing but also because there were many people walking, bicycling, and driving in and around the park at the time.
The witness and his wife remained on edge Sunday morning, expressing their concern for “everyone, not just us, but the entire town” in light of the recent murder in Central Park. “It should not be like this.”
At this time, it is unclear whether the two homicides are related, according to Pytel, who added that detectives are actively investigating several leads received in Breaux’s case.
“At this time, we advise the community to maintain vigilance, be aware of their surroundings, and contact the Davis Police Department if they observe anyone matching the provided description or acting suspiciously,” he added.
Anyone who was in the Sycamore Park area between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, or who has surveillance cameras facing the park or Sycamore Lane, is asked to contact the Davis Police Department at 530-747-5400 or [email protected].
The telephone number for the police department’s anonymous report line is 530-747-5460.
Subject of concern
Investigators have followed dozens of tips from the public in the Davis community since Breaux’s murder on Thursday morning, with some resulting in arrests for outstanding warrants or parole violations.
According to Pytel, this has led to multiple rumors that police have apprehended the murderer, but this has not yet occurred.
Pytel stated that there are currently no firm leads regarding the homicide in Central Park. The state Department of Justice will analyze the physical evidence that detectives have gathered later this week.
Multiple similarities exist between the two unsolved homicides, according to Pytel, including the park locations and the “brutal manner” of the assaults, in which a knife was likely used.
Despite the fact that there are no known connections between the two victims, “at this time we must investigate them as linked,” he added.
Saturday’s investigation was aided by neighboring law enforcement agencies, which utilized drones and K-9 units to examine the park’s environs. Around some apartment complexes located north of Sycamore Park, a K-9 “tracked for a period of time, then appeared to lose the scent.”
Sunday morning at 8 a.m., police alerts regarding the homicide were released to the public. According to Pytel, the delay was due to a number of factors.
First, according to Pytel, such alerts tend to attract curious onlookers, “which can contaminate a scene rather quickly.” Police also wished to avoid tipping off a suspect, which would give them time to alter their appearance or eliminate crucial physical evidence.
Pytel stated that the person of interest apprehended Saturday night, approximately five blocks from the crime site, bore a striking resemblance to the suspect in Najm’s murder and possessed physical evidence that prompted investigators to obtain search warrants. They were served at a residence on Drake Drive, just north of the park, later on Sunday morning.
This individual has been lodged in the Yolo County Jail on an unrelated Placer County warrant for failure to appear in court on accusations of public intoxication and resisting arrest.
As investigations continue, the Davis Police Department is collaborating with allied agencies to increase citywide patrols. The FBI intends to join the investigation.
“We recognize that there is a degree of dread and panic in the community. “We are listening to your concerns,” said Pytel. As both assaults occurred in parks, and as Saturday’s also occurred near an elementary school, police plan to increase their presence throughout the city’s parks and campuses.
“These crimes may be related, but they may not be, and I advise people to remain vigilant and take precautions,” said Pytel.
Sunday, the Davis City Council also released a statement expressing condolences to Najm’s family and acquaintances.
“On multiple levels, this incident has been overwhelming. This is the second homicide in our community in the past week, and many of us are alarmed, terrified, and enraged. The safety of our community has been compromised, and two people have died as a result.
“We are aware that emotions are intense. This is not the time for hysteria or rumors. The time has come for solidarity and vigilance. The Davis Police Department is coordinating with law enforcement and investigators from across the region, including the FBI, to solve these crimes as soon as possible.
“For the sake of the community, please be aware of your surroundings and watch out for yourself, your friends, your family, and your neighbors. If you observe something that seems unusual or out of place, you should report it. Additionally, there may be increased police presence and patrols in the community.
“Let’s channel our energy by cooperating as best we can with the investigation and by supporting our community and those who have lost loved ones.”
On Sunday evening, members of the community will hold a vigil to honor Breaux, a well-known figure in Davis known as “Compassion Guy” for his efforts to raise awareness of compassion and discover others’ definitions of the term.
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at “Compassion Corner,” where Breaux initiated a public art bench initiative a decade ago.