Salt Lake City police Thursday said they still had no idea why a man stabbed two people in Pioneer Park, killing one and critically injuring the second, before being shot and killed by an officer.
"We don't know if it was a random rampage kind of a deal," said Salt Lake City police detective Jared Wihongi. "We're trying to find out if there was any relationship between (the perpetrator) and the victims or if it's just a guy gone berserk."
About 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, police say 45-year-old Stephen Atiana walked into Pioneer Park from the northwest corner where he soon encountered 61-year-old Edmund White.
Atiana stabbed White multiple times with a knife, Wihongi said. White stumbled across 400 West to Iggy's Sports Grill where he asked restaurant patrons to call 911.
Several people attended to White including Jason Barker. Barker, a waiter at Iggy's, has worked as ski patrolman, has taken EMT classes and will start nursing school in January.
"He was bleeding profusely," he said. "He lost a lot of blood."
White had suffered a puncture wound in his upper chest and an S-shaped slash in his right bicep. Barker put direct pressure on White's artery while another person called 911. He credited a team effort for helping the man.
"I think the help everybody involved saved the guy's life. He would have died if no one had put pressure on (his wound)," he said. "Everyone should know first aid."
Barker said all White talked about was wanting to know where his bike was. He doubted the man even remembered who stabbed him. White was taken to a local hospital where he remained in extremely critical condition Thursday.
Barker himself didn't know much about the incident at the time.
"I heard someone say, 'He's randomly stabbing people over in the park,'" he said. "The next thing I know I hear gunshots. I heard way more than one shot."
After the first incident, officers said Atiana continued moving into the park. Near the middle of the park, police say, he stabbed and killed 31-year-old Christian Charles Draayer.
In both stabbings, Wihongi said it's unknown Thursday if any words were exchanged between Atiana and his victims or if they were attacked without warning.
Six minutes after police received the first 911 call, Atiana was at the southeast corner when he was confronted by a Salt Lake City police officer. Wihongi could not say Thursday what kind of verbal exchange, if any, Atiana and the officer had. She shot and killed Atiana when he threatened her with the knife, Wihongi said.
"There's no obvious motive (for the stabbing spree). We don't know the relation, if any, between the suspects and victims. All possibilities are being explored," Wihongi said.The officer involved in the fatal shooting, an eight-year veteran with the department, was placed on standard paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office.
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