A 46-year-old college English professor died Saturday from an apparently unprovoked and random stabbing that also severely injured his 30-year-old partner after the pair left a Sounders game Friday night.
Troy Wolff, chair of the English department at Shoreline Community College and a resident of the Beacon Hill neighborhood,
died from multiple stab wounds.
His partner, Kristin Ito, who was also stabbed repeatedly, was in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center late Saturday afternoon.
The alleged attacker, a 44-year-old man, was arrested Friday and taken to King County Jail. On Saturday, he was booked for investigation of murder.
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“There are indications that the suspect was operating at a diminished mental capacity,” said Seattle police Detective Jeff Kappel.
Kappel said the suspect was still standing near the victims and holding the knife when police arrived. He dropped the knife and was taken into custody without further incident.
Wolff and Ito had attended the soccer game at CenturyLink Field and were attacked near Third Avenue South and South Jackson Street, close to the King Street railway station.
At about 10:32 p.m. Friday, Seattle police said SWAT and gang-unit officers responded to a 911 call about the stabbing.
Police said the preliminary investigation indicates that Wolff and Ito were walking together when a man suddenly confronted them with a small knife and began stabbing Ito repeatedly in the torso.
Wolff “attempted to intervene and the suspect turned on him and began stabbing the male victim repeatedly in the neck and torso,” the police report states.
Fire Department medics transported both victims to Harborview Medical Center. Wolff died Saturday afternoon.
The Harborview nursing supervisor said then that Ito remained in serious condition. A college news release said she was stable.
During the Friday-night soccer game, Wolff posted a message on his Facebook page celebrating his evening out.
“Cheap seats, great match! Sounders v salt lake for first place. — with Kristin Ito at CenturyLink Field,” Wolff posted.
After Wolff’s death, friends began adding messages of condolence.
“Sweet sweet Troy. We love you,” one posted.
“This is an unbelievably tragic loss,” said interim college President Daryl Campbell in the news release. “Troy was loved by students, loved by his fellow faculty members, loved by all who knew him.”
Ed Harkness, a colleague of Wolff’s in the Shoreline English department who retired in June, said Wolff was “the dearest of dear men, a gifted teacher and scholar, and really funny.”
“We were all envious of Troy because he was so popular with students,” Harkness said.
On RateMyProfessors.com, a website on which students rate their teachers on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score, Wolff received a 4.6 overall from 48 ratings.
One student called Wolff “one of the best teachers” at the college.
“He is a great teacher, he makes you want to write interesting and thought out papers,” another student wrote. “He is informal enough to make class fun instead of intimidating.”
Kathie Hunt, interim dean of humanities, said the loss will always be felt.
“A college is like a quilt, all the patches fitting together,” Hunt said. “Troy was a very big piece of our quilt. Eventually, we’ll figure out a way to mend it, but it will never be the same.”
Wolff, who attended high schools in Utah and Idaho and graduated from Baylor University in Texas, started as a part-time instructor at Shoreline in 1996 and became a full-time professor in 2001.
During his tenure, he taught abroad in Costa Rica, Spain, Greece and Turkey. Besides teaching, he was co-author of “Seattle and King County: Gateway to the Pacific Northwest.”
Ito’s Facebook page indicates that she went to high school in California, studied literature at UCLA and Boston College, and lives in Seattle.
Police said they believe there are no other suspects involved. They said the attacker was a stranger to the victims and that the attacks were unprovoked.
The Downtown Seattle Association, a nonprofit group representing downtown businesses, called the incident “both heartbreaking and disturbing.”
The incident “is a tragic example of why we’ve been asking local and state leaders for an immediate and sustained approach to increase public safety and mental health services,” the group said in a statement.
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or email@example.com
Seattle Times reporters Sanjay Bhatt and Alexa Vaughn contributed to this story.