SALT LAKE CITY — Two men reportedly trying to defend their female friend were stabbed in the middle of a crowded Liberty Park Thursday night, according to police.

Two 18-year-old men and a woman, who was dating one of the men, were walking around Liberty Park about 8:30 p.m. when they were approached by two other men, said Salt Lake police detective Veronica Montoya. The woman and one of the other men had a history of conflict.

A 20-year-old man in the other group bumped into or said something to the woman, prompting her boyfriend to defend her, Montoya said. The arguing escalated into a fistfight.

The woman ran off to find a police officer. When she returned, she found one of the 18-year-olds hunched over with a stab wound to his stomach and the other suffering from a slash to the side of his chest, the detective said.

The teen stabbed in the stomach was taken to a local hospital in serious condition. The other was not transported to the hospital.

Gang detectives said they were familiar with the two suspects and were looking for them Friday.

— Pat Reavy