Three tourists suffered minor injuries late yesterday morning in stabbings that police described as random attacks in Lafayette Square, just across from the White House.
A uniformed U.S. Secret Service officer tackled and arrested the assailant, police said. Stanley R. Battle, 48, of the District, was charged with assault with intent to kill, authorities said. He was held pending a hearing today in D.C. Superior Court.
Authorities said they knew of no motive for the attacks.
"We feel this is a random thing," said Lt. Phil Beck of the U.S. Park Police. "He just decided to cut people as he went through the park."
Park Police, who patrol the square, said the incident took place about 11:30 a.m. A man entered the square near H Street NW, pulled out a small knife and began to attack the tourists. The stabbings immediately caught the attention of Secret Service officers in a nearby security booth. They summoned help from an officer on bicycle patrol. That officer then tackled the assailant, police said.
The victims, all men, suffered slashing-type wounds, police said. Two were treated at a hospital and released; the third was treated at the scene for a minor injury. Police said that a woman's blouse was ripped in the attacks but that she was neither stabbed nor injured.
In the hours after the stabbings, crime scene technicians marked spatters of blood with red flags and cordoned off a corner of the square with yellow police tape. They questioned several witnesses at the scene and took them away in an unmarked car for further questioning, authorities said.
The attack surprised those who regularly visit the square, where many people were outside enjoying the warm fall day. They noted that the area is heavily patrolled by police and security officers because the White House is nearby.
"I can't believe it happened here in broad daylight," said Ginger Ammon, 26, a researcher at a nonprofit organization who frequently visits the square for lunch. "There are police everywhere."
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.