Serial stabbing suspect nabbed on way to Israel

Elias Abuelazam is seen in booking photo after being arrested in a gun charge in 2008. / Loundon Co. Sheriff's Office (Virginia)

Authorities in Atlanta have arrested a man in connection with a three-state serial stabbing spree that resulted in at least 18 attacks and five deaths, many in Michigan.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say officers arrested Elias Abuelazam around 10:00 p.m. Wednesday at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. The man was attempting to board a Delta flight bound for Tel Aviv, according to officers.

Authorities believe Abuelazam is the same man behind a series of stabbing in Leesburg, Virginia; Flint, Michigan; and most recently, Toledo, Ohio. The attacks started May 24 in Flint.

The suspect, an Israeli citizen who is in the U.S. legally, is now in the custody of the FBI and Atlanta police. He is wanted on arrest warrants for murder charges in Flint and Leesburg. Flint Police issued an arrest warrant Thursday, charging Abuelazam with assault with intent to murder in connection to a July 27 stabbing in Flint.

In the most recent attack, believed to be linked to the violent spree, a church custodian was stabbed outside a church in Toledo's Old West End.

Five people were killed in the attacks, which targeted mostly black men.

Abuelazam was arrested on Aug. 5 in Arlington, Virginia on an assault charge. A judge released him on his own recognizance. Auhthorities say just five hours after Abuelazam was released from jail, a stabbing occurred in Leesburg.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, a Michigan prosecutor said a knife and hammer were found in the vehicle driven by Abuelazam during the string of stabbings. The weapons were found inside the dark green SUV when Abuelazam was pulled over by Arlington police on Aug. 5.