A former Leesburg resident was arrested in connection with stabbings that have killed five people and wounded 13 in three states, but police say the motive for the attacks is still unclear.
Elias Abuelazam, 33, was arrested at about 10 p.m. Wednesday at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as he attempted to board a flight to Tel Aviv.
He has been charged with one count of assault with intent to murder in Michigan, where police allege Abuelazam has killed five people and injured nine in the Flint area. Police say also say he stabbed three people in Leesburg and one in Toledo, Ohio, in early August.
Though charges have not yet been filed in Virginia, police can place Abuelazam and his vehicle "in the Northern Virginia area during the time of our assaults," Leesburg Police Chief Joseph Price said Thursday.
Detroit authorities said Abuelazam was identified through fingerprints found at the Virginia and Michigan stabbing scenes.
Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they had agents apprehend Abuelazam at the airport after fingerprint records matched him to Michigan warrants.
All but two of Abuelazam's alleged victims were black, but authorities said they're not sure what role, if any, race played in the assaults.
"We don't have any other evidence that it's racially motivated," Genesee County Prosecutor David Layton said.
Michigan and Leesburg authorities said the motive for the attacks was still under investigation.
Records show that Abuelazam has been associated with various addresses in Leesburg since at least 1998. He owned a home there from 2002 to 2007.
Abuelazam had only been in the Flint area since early May, Layton said.
In Leesburg, he worked as a mental health technician for Piedmont Behavioral Health Center in the mid 2000s, according to a claim filed with the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission.
The health center, now called North Spring Behavioral Healthcare, told The Washington Examiner that Abuelazam worked there until 2008.
Authorities said Abuelazam is an Israeli citizen who was legally living in the United States with a green card.
He was staying with an uncle in Michigan, who paid for the $3,000 plane ticket to Israel. Layton said the uncle is now cooperating with police.
Abdullah Farah, the manager at Kingwater Market, where Abuelazam worked in Flint this summer, told the Flint Journal that Abuelazam was only employed there for about a month.
He last worked there Aug. 1, two days before the first stabbing in Leesburg.
Police say that in each attack, the suspect asked a man walking alone for directions or help with his vehicle, then stabbed him and fled the crime scene.
Assaults in Leesburg were reported on Aug. 3, 5 and 6. Abuelazam was pulled over by Arlington County police for a traffic violation in the early morning of Aug. 5. Police found that he was wanted for an outstanding assault warrant and arrested him, but he was released without having to post bond.
Hours later, police said, the suspect stabbed a 67-year-old black man who was sitting on the stoop outside his apartment building in Leesburg.
The other victims there were a 15-year-old black teenager and a 19-year-old Hispanic man.
Abuelazam is being held in a Georgia jail and is expected to be extradited to Michigan.