DETROIT (WWJ) – Officials say two paramedics are in serious condition after they were attacked and stabbed repeatedly while trying to help a woman on Detroit’s west side.
The incident happened just after 12 a.m. Tuesday in the 3400 block of Third Street, in a neighborhood just east of the Lodge Freeway along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The suspect and the injured woman were taken into custody late Tuesday evening in connection with the incident.
“It was a horrific scene,” said Fire Commissioner Eric Jones. “It was a stabbing and a slashing.”
The paramedics, identified as Alfredo Rojas and Kelly Adams, had been called to the area to treat a woman with an ankle injury when a man who was with the woman became “agitated” and attacked.
“They were together on the sidewalk when EMS arrived,” Jones told reporters. “The male subject was upset at the assessment of the EMTs so as they were treating her — I can’t get inside of his head, I don’t know what he was agitated about, but he was upset for some reason — and at some point during the encounter, he produced this weapon.”
The suspect first went for the Rojas, who has been working with the department for about two years. When Adams, a 13-year department veteran, stepped in to help her partner, the suspect turned his attention — and his weapon — to her.
Both paramedics were stabbed and slashed repeatedly before making it back to their vehicle. Adams then drove she and her partner to Detroit Receiving Hospital where both remain in serious condition.
“It was a horrific scene. The EMS rig, the scene inside of the rig is horrific. Their injuries are horrific,” Jones said, adding that both paramedics will have significant scarring. “Both of the EMTs are going to require some extensive surgeries. The injuries — they came to within inches of dying.”
The suspect took off running after the attack and is currently being sought by police. His description was not immediately released.
Jones said he plans to meet with Police Chief James Craig later Tuesday to discuss “de-escalation training” and defensive tactic training to prevent another attack like this from happening in the future.
“I understand the situation that the men and women of the Detroit Fire Department and the Detroit EMS are experiencing and I am working aggressively to get them the training and the equipment that they need,” he said. “They’re working in some dangerous conditions… they’re concerned. I mean, police officers are concerned, firefighters are concerned, EMTs are concerned. They’re professionals but it is dangerous and they go into some very dangerous situations.”
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan spoke to reporters after visiting the injured pair in the hospital later Tuesday morning.
He called Adams’ effort to protect her partner an amazing act or heroism.
“What I can tell you is, at Detroit Receiving Hospital — which many of you know I ran for nine years — they consider the EMTs are part of the family. Those ambulances are in and out of there all the time,” Duggan said. “They are being totally embraced by the doctors and nurses. And, as I told them, everybody in this community is thinking about them and our thoughts and our prayers are with them.”
Area residents like Robert Armstrong are just trying to make sense of the crime.
“The EMS is one of the most important people for this area — there’s always something bad happening around here,” he said. “And for that to happen is really stupid, man, it’s really stupid.”