Ramle residents were shocked by news Thursday night that an Israeli citizen believed to be a former resident of their city was arrested in the U.S. on suspicion of involvement in a string of 20 stabbings that terrorized people across three states and left five dead.
A judge in Flint, Mich., where the attacks began in late May, signed a warrant Thursday charging Elias Abuelazam, 33, with assault with intent to murder in connection with a July 27 stabbing.
Abuelazam, an Israeli citizen living legally in the U.S., reportedly recently visited Israel for his sister's wedding.
One Ramle resident said Abuelazam left Israel at age 19 or 20 after finishing high school.
Another resident said Abuelazam was orphaned by his father at a young age.
The resident added that Abuelazam was allegedly involved with criminals and had a violent streak, which led his mother to send him abroad.
However, other neighbors who studied with Abuelazam in high school said he avoided violence, despite his physical build. They added, however, that Abuelazam seemed to have undergone significant changes during his recent visit to Israel.
A., a former neighbor and classmate, said Abuelazam was pleasant during the time they studied together, but that lately he would picks fights with "anyone who looked him in the eye."
He added when Abuelazam got angry, it took three people to restrain him.
"In recent years he experienced something that changed him entirely. He started using drugs, so his family sent him abroad."
Other rumors in Ramle alleged that Abuelazam engaged in relationships with older women in the U.S. who then supported him financially.
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