Byron Price was finishing up a construction job at UC Merced on Wednesday when he heard an uproar from inside a classroom. Expecting to find a fight, "I went to open the door to break it up and see if everybody was okay and they all screamed 'run' when I opened the door," the 31-year-old says, per CBS Fresno. Unbeknownst to Price, a hooded male student—identified as 18-year-old Faisal Mohammad, per the Merced Sun-Star—had just stabbed a classmate. Suddenly, he charged at Price with a large hunting knife. Price dropped to the ground on his back and kicked out with his legs, his father tells the Los Angeles Times. "I looked him right in the eye when he was coming at me," he reportedly told his parents. Mohammad stabbed Price in his side, then fled. He was eventually shot dead by a campus police officer.
Four people were stabbed in all—including a student in the hallway and a university staff member who was "sitting [outside the building], literally minding her own business"—and all are expected to survive, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke says. However, Warnke notes there may have been more victims if it weren't for Price. He was "the true hero in all of this chaos," he tells the Sun-Star. "Without him, the first victim could have been a lot worse off, or even dead." Little is known about Mohammad, other than that he was a freshman from Santa Clara; he had just turned 18 in October. Investigators haven't said if he lived on campus, but they did evacuate the Tuolumne residence hall on campus on Wednesday to "widen the crime scene."