Coordinating a criminal investigation across multiple states is a daunting task, and it can lead to public disagreements over such basic aspects as the suspect's likely motive.
In simultaneous news conferences this afternoon, the prosecutor in Flint, Mich., where most of the assaults attributed to Elias Abuelazam occurred, and the police chief in Leesburg, Va., where the case against Abuelazam began coming together last week, contradicted each other over the assailant was motivated by race. Nearly all of the 18 victims, five of whom died, were African-American.
"My belief is he selected the victims of Leesburg based upon their color of their skin," Leesburg Police Chief Tom Price said.
But at almost the same time in Flint, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton was saying that as of now, there's "no other evidence" of a racial motive.
Abuelazam's boss at the Kings Water Market in Flint, Abdulla Farah, said Abuelazam was "a good guy, a friendly guy" who got along well with African-American customers.