An Israeli suspected of killing five people and wounding 13 in a stabbing spree that left a trail of fear across three US states was arrested in Atlanta trying to board a flight to Tel Aviv, US officials have said.
Elias Abuelazam, an Israeli national legally in the United States, was detained late Wednesday at the departure gate, Stephen Kremer, the area port director for US Customs and Border Protection in Atlanta, told AFP.
"He was sitting out in the gate area and we had him paged by a Delta (airline) rep at the boarding gate, and when he got up to identify himself, then we went over and verified who he was and detained him."
Kremer said Abuelazam was told by law enforcement officers he was being detained over the brutal attacks that have terrorised communities in Michigan, Ohio and Virginia over the last two-and-a-half months.
The suspected serial stabber's modus operandi was to approach a lone man on a city street late at night, ask for directions or help with his car, and then viciously attack the person, usually with a knife, according to reports.
The attacks began in late May in the working class town of Flint, Michigan, when a 31-year-old black man was stabbed.
Over the next two months, 13 more men, most of them black, were attacked by the serial stabber in and around Flint. Five of the men died.
Then, in early August, three attacks were reported in Leesburg, Virginia, and one in Toledo, Ohio.
The Leesburg police chief was quoted on the Flint ABC television affiliate station as saying a hammer was used in one of the attacks there. In the other two, the victims were stabbed, he said.