One Woman Dead, Another Injured in Pittsburgh Stabbing

A man in Pittsburgh fatally stabbed one woman and injured another in what appears to be a random attack, police said.

The Pittsburgh Police Department said the incident occurred around 11:40 am on August 8 at 6th and Smithfield Streets in Downtown Pittsburgh, according to a press release. Before the attack occurred, a police officer stopped to conduct a welfare check on a woman at the bus stop who appeared to be asleep or passed out.

While the officer was speaking to the woman, a man approached her and stabbed her with a knife, the press release stated. The man, who has been identified as James Wyatt, 23, also stabbed another woman who was walking past the bus stop.

Both women were taken to local hospitals following the incident. One of the women died as a result of her injuries, but the other woman is in stable condition. Wyatt was disarmed and placed into custody, according to the press release. The 23-year-old was charged with criminal homicide and aggravated assault and was booked into Allegheny County Jail.

One of the victims was reportedly wearing a hijab, but police will not confirm this. Authorities also said there is no evidence to believe the attack was racially or religiously motivated “We will conduct a complete and thorough investigation of this tragic incident to include motive,” Major Crimes Commander Victor Joseph said in a statement. “At this time we do not have any evidence to suggest this was a hate crime.”

Ibrahim Hooper, the national spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the organization will continue to monitor the incident.

“Given the recent deadly attacks nationwide and increased Islamophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric, CAIR is asking law enforcement authorities to investigate the possibility of a bias motive for the attack,” Hooper stated.

In June, a Muslim mother said she was harassed at a Starbucks in Dallas because she was wearing a hijab. Nur Ashour, a popular food blogger, wrote on Twitter that a woman threw things at her at the chain coffee shop, in front of her young children.

“Today I got harassed by a woman for wearing a hijab. The sad part was it was @Starbucks and not a single employee or bystander said a word to her,” Ashour previously wrote in a Twitter thread. “She threw things in my face and said horrific things. Had the roles been reversed, I guarantee the reactions would have differed.”

Ashour said while she was at the coffee shop, a woman bumped into her from behind. The mother said she apologized, but the woman became violent and threw coffee sleeves at her and yelled that she “better be sorry.” The woman then told Ashour to leave and followed her out of the Starbucks.

“I had my 8-month-old daughter with me and my three-year-old nearby. I was so shook up I had to leave immediately because I feared for the safety of my family. Had I not approached a security officer outside, not a single person at @Starbucks thought to even check on me,” Ashour wrote at the time.

A spokesperson from Starbucks previously told The North Star that they were in communication with Ashour following the incident. The spokesperson also noted that any kind of discriminatory behavior is not welcome in their stores, and their employees are encouraged to stand up and say something if a customer’s behavior is unacceptable.

The CAIR Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter wrote in a statement on June 17 that it has asked state and federal law enforcement officials to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

“Hate crimes are on the rise throughout the United States, including here in Dallas,” said CAIR-DFW Interim Executive Director Ekram Haque in a previous statement. “Earlier this year at the Dallas Reunion Tower, another American Muslim woman was verbally and physically attacked apparently based on her identity as a Muslim woman.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 2017 Hate Crime statistics report found that hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017. In the report, it states that out of 5,060 victims of race, ethnicity, and/or ancestry-motivated hate crimes, 2.6 percent were victims of anti-Arab bias. The report also found that out of the 1,749 victims involved in anti-religious hate crimes, 18.6 percent were victims of anti-Islamic or Muslim bias.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.