Updated Jun 12, 2024 - World

What to know about the stabbing of four U.S. instructors in China

Beishan Park

Beishan Park in Jilin, China. Photo: Costfoto/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Four American college instructors from Iowa were stabbed in a public park in China on Monday, according to both their university and Chinese officials.

Why it matters: Though the motive remains unclear, Chinese police said Tuesday that a suspect had been arrested in connection to the attack.

What do we know about the attack?

The four instructors from Iowa's Cornell College were injured in a public park the northeastern city of Jilin on Monday, Jonathan Brand, the president of Cornell College, said in a statement.

  • "We have been in contact with all four instructors and are assisting them during this time," Brand added, noting that no students were taking part in the program that brought the professors to China.
  • The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday that the attack took place in Beishan Park and that the victims were immediately taken to the hospital, but did not suffer from life-threatening injuries.
  • Police had deemed the attack an "isolated incident" and an investigation is ongoing, the ministry added.

Why were the professors in China?

The four instructors were teaching in China as part of a partnership program with Beihua University in Jilin, Brand said.

  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R–Iowa) wrote on X Monday that she was "closely following reports that personnel from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon were stabbed in China."
  • She and her staff were in touch with both Cornell College and the State Department, she added.

Zoom in: Iowa state Rep. Adam Zabner (D) told CNN that his brother, David Zabner, was one of the victims in the attack.

  • "I'm just extremely grateful that my brother is OK and that he survived this attack," Zabner said.
  • The other three professors injured in the attack have not been publicly identified, and the extent of their injuries is unknown.

How the attack unfolded

David Zabner was walking in the park when he heard a scream behind him, he told Iowa Public Radio from the hospital Tuesday.

  • "I turned around to find a man brandishing a knife at me. I didn't immediately realize what was happening. I thought my coworkers had been pushed, and he, for some reason was trying to push me," he said.
  • "Then I looked down at my shoulder and realized, 'I'm bleeding. I've been stabbed.'"
  • Zabner said police told them the suspect was "unemployed and down on his luck, and that somebody in our group bumped into the man. And he decided to respond in the way he responded."

What is known about the suspect?

Chinese police identified the suspect by his surname, Cui, and said he was a 55-year-old man, CNN reported.

  • According to police, Cui was walking in the park when he "collided with a foreigner." He then stabbed the four professors as well as a Chinese tourist who tried to stop him.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from David Zabner's interview with Iowa Public Radio.

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