CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y — A man ran onto the stage at an event Friday morning in western New York and stabbed author Salman Rushdie in the neck as he was preparing to give a lecture, according to police.
According to The Associated Press, New York State police identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, 24. He was arrested at the scene. No motive has been identified.
The AP also said that Rushdie sustained a damaged liver, severed nerves in one of his arms and may lose an eye due to the attack.
WPXI reporter David Johnson, who witnessed the attack, said Rushdie had just taken his seat on a stage at the Chautauqua Institution when a man attacked him. Reports of the incident began to surface on social media around 11 a.m. EDT.
“We were just stunned,” Johnson said in a social media post. “It was surreal.”
Authorities said a man attacked Rushdie and an interviewer, identified by the Chautauqua Institute as Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum. Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a hospital after the incident, and his condition was not immediately known. Police said Reese suffered a minor head injury.
A state trooper working at the event took the suspected assailant into custody immediately after the stabbing, authorities said.
In a statement, officials with the Chautauqua Institution asked for prayers for Rushdie and Reese. They said all cultural center’s programs were canceled for the remainder of Friday.
We ask for your prayers for Salman Rushdie and Henry Reese, and patience as we fully focus on coordinating with police officials following a tragic incident at the Amphitheater today. All programs are canceled for the remainder of the day. Please consult the NYS Police statement.— Chautauqua Institution (@chq) August 12, 2022
In a statement, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she directed state police to assist in the investigation into Friday’s attack.
Thank you to the swift response of @nyspolice & first responders following today's attack of author Salman Rushdie.— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) August 12, 2022
Our thoughts are with Salman & his loved ones following this horrific event. I have directed State Police to further assist however needed in the investigation.
Multiple threats have been made against Rushdie’s life since 1988, when his book “The Satanic Verses” was first published in the United Kingdom, according to BBC News and The Guardian. Iran has offered a $3 million reward for anyone who kills him, according to The Washington Post.
Rushdie, who has penned 14 novels, four non-fiction books and a collection of short stories, was scheduled to speak Friday at the Chautauqua Institution as part of the Chautauqua Lecture Series.
The pair will discuss the United States as a place of asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression.— Chautauqua Institution (@chq) January 31, 2022
Reese is co-founder and president of City of Asylum, which was founded in 2004 to provide sanctuary in Pittsburgh to writers exiled under threat of persecution. Learn more here: https://t.co/R3VHPXBBHc— Chautauqua Institution (@chq) January 31, 2022
Check back for more on this developing story.
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