SAN DIEGO — A suspect was behind bars Wednesday in connection with a pair of apparently random stabbing attacks that seriously wounded two women in quick succession in El Cajon and in an unincorporated community a few miles to the south.
Patrick Douglas, 51, allegedly attacked the victims for unknown reasons early Tuesday morning, leaving them lying bleeding at strip malls, then led authorities on a reckless high-speed road chase into Dulzura, where he abandoned his car and made a failed attempt to escape on foot into rugged backcountry terrain.
The motivation for the assaults remained under investigation late this morning, according to sheriff’s Lt. Tom Seiver. Investigators had no immediate evidence that the assailant knew his victims, or that the targeted women were acquainted with each other, the lieutenant told reporters.
The first of the two assaults was reported shortly before 3 a.m. in a commercial area about a mile west of Granite Hills High School, according to the El Cajon Police Department.
Patrol officers found the victim in a parking lot at a strip mall in the 300 block of North Second Street, ECPD Lt. Eric Taylor said. A witness reported seeing the bloodied woman emerge from a Mercedes-Benz sedan that was then driven out of the area.
Medics took the victim to a trauma center, where she underwent emergency surgery for wounds to her upper body and was listed in critical but stable condition, Seiver said. Her name was being withheld.
A few minutes after the first assault was reported, authorities got 911 call about an attack on a Frito-Lay delivery driver outside a 7-Eleven store in the 4600 block of Avocado Boulevard in the Calavo Gardens neighborhood, near Mount Helix.
The victim, 35-year-old Dina Hammond, stumbled into the convenience store and collapsed onto the floor. Medics took her to a hospital, where she was admitted for treatment of serious but non-life-threatening stab wounds.
Deputies soon spotted a man — later identified as Douglas — matching witness descriptions of the assailant behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz near the site of the second crime, Seiver said.
The suspect sped off when the patrol personnel approached, prompting a pursuit over surface streets and along state Route 94 into Spring Valley. There, the fleeing motorist wound up cornered in a cul-de-sac, at which point he put his hands out the driver’s side window as if surrendering.
As deputies drew near to him, however, the man accelerated toward them, narrowly missing one, according to Seiver. The suspect then drove off once again, heading east through Rancho San Diego at speeds exceeding 100 mph.
In the Jamul area, one of the pursuing deputies lost control of his cruiser and crashed it, suffering minor injuries. When the lawman’s colleagues stopped to assist him, the suspect got away, Seiver told news crews.
Later in the morning, authorities found the suspect’s car damaged and abandoned on Campo Road, a short distance from Dulzura Vineyard. Deputies then began searching the remote locale with help from U.S. Border Patrol agents.
About 7:45 a.m., members of the federal agency reported that they had detained a man matching the pursuit suspect’s description in a remote, brushy area off Freezer Road. Deputies took custody of him and arrested him on suspicion of felony evading of police and attempted vehicular assault on a peace officer.
Authorities were not immediately 100 percent certain that arrestee was the man responsible for the stabbings, though investigators were not looking for any outstanding suspects following his capture, Seiver said.
Douglas was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of two counts of attempted murder. He was being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Thursday afternoon.