One told Milton the suspect yelled “Allah Akbar” -- Arabic for God is Great -- during the stabbing. Witnesses told police they heard the same thing, reports CBS Roanoke affiliate WDBJ-TV.
Police said Wasil Farooqui, 20, of Roanoke County, stabbed a man and woman in a random attack that left the victims severely wounded and hospitalized. He’s charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding and is being held without bond.
The victims told police they were attacked as they entered The Pines Apartments just before 8 p.m.
The male was able to fight off the attacker, who fled the scene, police said.
While officers were at the hospital with the victims, a male, subsequently identified as Farooqui, came into the emergency room with injuries of his own, authorities said. He met the description of the suspect in the stabbing, and further investigation by police led to his arrest, they said.
Amy Whitaker, a spokeswoman for the city of Roanoke, told CBS News that despite earlier reports, the attack was not an attempted beheading.
“The male victim suffered multiple lacerations all over his body, including his neck, but this did not appear to be an attempt at a beheading,” according to Whitaker.
Farooqui appeared in court on Monday, where he was ordered held without bond. His next appearance is set for Sept. 1 to determine whether or not he needs a state-appointed attorney.
A law enforcement source said the FBI is investigating whether the knife attack was possibly inspired by ISIS. So far, the terror group has not claimed the attack.
The source said the stabbing victims are believed to have been picked at random.
A U.S. intelligence source tells CBS News Farooqui has been on the FBI’s radar for months and is believed to be self-radicalized.
That source says authorities aren’t sure whether Farooqui is an American citizen.
The source adds that Farooqui tried to go to Syria earlier this year but only got as far as Europe, then returned to the U.S., and the trip is what alerted law enforcement to him.
Source: CBS News