Motive for random stabbing attacks in El Cajon unknown as suspect arraigned

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EL CAJON, Calif. - A man accused in a pair of apparently random stabbing attacks that seriously wounded two women in quick succession in El Cajon and in unincorporated La Mesa pleaded not guilty Thursday to attempted murder and other charges.

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 back- country terrain, authorities said.

The motivation for the assaults remained under investigation, according to Deputy District Attorney Jeff Lazar.

Investigators had no immediate evidence that the assailant knew his victims, or that the targeted women were acquainted with each other.

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.

Prosecutors say the attack was captured on surveillance video.

“The driver got out of his vehicle, went over to the passenger’s side where the victim was sitting and began lunging towards her with a punching, stabbing motion. She had four to six stab wounds on her right side. Beyond the stab wounds, she had several broken bones to the right side of her face," said Lazar.

Medics took the victim to a trauma center, where she underwent emergency surgery and remains unconscious in critical condition, Lazar said. Her name was being withheld.

"The first victim told responding ECPD officers that a man named Patrick was responsible for stabbing her," said Lazar.

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.

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. The suspect then drove off once again, heading east 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.

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 they had detained a man matching the pursuit suspect's description in a remote, brushy area off Freezer Road. Deputies arrested him.

Besides attempted murder, Douglas is charged with assault on a peace officer and evading police.

The defendant -- who has a 1992 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon and a 1996 conviction for a home-invasion robbery -- faces 97 years to life in prison if convicted, said Lazar.

Douglas is being held on $5 million bail and will be back in court Dec. 13 for a readiness conference and Jan. 31 for a preliminary hearing.