A 21-year-old woman was seriously injured yesterday after she was stabbed in the head and side with what was possibly her own penknife during a midday attack in downtown Baltimore, city police said.
The stabbing took place at 1:40 p.m. in the 500 block of Guilford Ave. across from the Baltimore Sun building and was witnessed by dozens of Sun employees.
Ronette Coates of the 700 block of N. Stricker St. in West Baltimore was listed in fair condition last night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Homicide detectives said they had not been able to interview her and did not know the motive for the assault. But based on interviews with the woman's alleged attacker and her boyfriend, they believe that Ms. Coates and the man charged in her assault did not know each other.
Police said they would charge Michael Edward Thomas, 36, of the 3000 block of Auchentoroly Terrace in West Baltimore with assault with intent to murder. He was arrested shortly after the attack by city police officers with some help from two city workers, who followed the man and pointed him out to the officers.
He was treated at Mercy Medical Center for minor injuries after his arrest.
Witnesses said they saw a man and a woman fighting on a concrete divider on Guilford Avenue and were unsure whether they were witnessing an assault or a domestic dispute.
Five city workers--carpenters in the Transportation Department -- were walking back to work along Guilford Avenue after attending a memorial service for city workers who died on the job when they saw the alleged assault.
Ms. Coates was stabbed once in the right temple with a small penknife, which possibly belonged to her, police said. She was also stabbed in her left side, a wound that was not detected until she arrived at the hospital.
"As we approached, he just jumped on her, put her down and stabbed her," said Roberto Castellano, one of the workers. Blood spurted from her head and she collapsed, he said. "We all froze up, because what the [assailant] had, we didn't know," Mr. Castellano said. "Then he ran and we were worried about her, because the blood was just pouring out like a faucet."
Another of the city employees, Percell Phillips, ran up to Ms. Coates and applied pressure to her head to stop the flow of blood. She remained conscious after the attack.
"I just stayed with her and tried to keep her calm," a shaken Mr. Phillips said later. "And I said a prayer."
After the assault, her alleged attacker tossed the knife into a parking lot under the Jones Falls Expressway and fled up Guilford Avenue, turning up Bath Street and south on North Calvert Street. Two other city workers in the group followed the ++ man. from a distance of about a half a block.
"We followed him down past Saratoga Street," said Hayward Thomas. "An officer came up Calvert Street and we flagged him down. . . ."