A Fairfax County man, apparently trying to break up a fight between a man and woman, was stabbed in the neck Thursday night and bled to death as his horrified friends and a police officer tried to save him.

Shortly before 10 p.m., in front of a small cul-de-sac of townhouses on Hagel Circle in Lorton, Jamel D. Rush, 24, engaged in a loud argument with a young woman, according to police. Christian A. Green, 30, who lived down the street, and a friend walked by the argument, kept walking, then went back to help the young woman, they said.

Green and Rush had a brief confrontation, and "it was over fairly quickly because the suspect stabbed the victim," said Officer Bud Walker, a police spokesman. Police do not think Green and Rush knew each other.

Rush and the young woman he had been fighting with fled in a white Nissan Maxima, police said. By 10:12 p.m., they were stopped by police on Richmond Highway and Rush was arrested. Rush, who was released from prison five months ago for abduction and attempted robbery, was charged with murder and held without bond at the Fairfax jail. The young woman was not charged.

Green was the father of a 6-year-old boy who friends said was the focus of his life. He worked as a cook at a sandwich shop in Alexandria and also was an avid swimmer and former pool manager, friends said.

Residents of the Highlands townhouse complex just off Richmond Highway, where the stabbing occurred, said the power went out about 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Neighbors who poured outside, looking for relief from the stifling heat, said it was almost totally dark: no street lights or traffic lights.

"He was just talking about having a pool party" to beat the heat, said Alexander Samuel, who was at the scene. "I stood right here and watched the man die," Samuel said. He and others said a female police officer was the first to arrive in the 9600 block of Hagel, calling for more help and trying to keep Green conscious.

"The ambulance took too long to get here," Samuel said. "They didn't get here until he was nearly dead. They're right around the corner."

Lorton Fire Station 19 is about a half-mile away, also off Richmond Highway. But police and fire officials said their response was timely and that Green's wound to his carotid artery was so critical that he likely could not have been saved.

Police records show they received the first call for help at 10:04 p.m. The first officer arrived at 10:06 p.m. and apparently renewed the request for an ambulance, after determining that the scene was safe. Fire records show that firefighters, who also are trained emergency medical technicians, were dispatched from Station 19 at 10:08 p.m. and arrived at 10:11 p.m.

An ambulance arrived at 10:16 p.m. and took Green to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The seven minutes between the first call and the arrival of the first firefighter was "too long," Rakia Parker said as she organized a memorial near the site of the stabbing. "If they'd have gotten here on time, he may have been saved."

Fire spokesman Dan Schmidt said the department strives for a six-minute average response time, and that firefighters arrived three minutes after they were dispatched.

Green "was a Good Samaritan," Parker said. "He had no enemies. All of us are friends around here; we're just like a big family." She said both Green and Rush had been in the same group of people, "just chilling," not long before the violence erupted.

"All he was trying to do was save a friend," Parker said. "He's not going to stand around and let someone choke a female out. He's going to do something."

Green's family did not want to be interviewed yesterday.

"Most of the time you see him, you see him with his son," said another friend, Tanyon Watson. Green had full custody of the boy, friends said. "He lived for his boy," Watson said.

Corrections officials said Rush was released Feb. 23 from state prison after serving most of a five-year sentence for abduction and attempted robbery. He had been a soldier in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., at the time of his arrest in October 2000.

After being sentenced the following May, he wrote two letters to Fairfax judges asking them to reconsider. "I'm in no way a threat to society," Rush wrote. "I know if given one more chance I'll never mess up again. . . . I know I'll never break the law again, it's not worth it."

The judges declined to reduce his sentence.