Community college instructor dies from injuries in Pioneer Square stabbing

by: Deborah Horne Updated:


SEATTLE - By all accounts, 46-year-old Troy Wolff was a respected educator who taught around the world.

Friday night, he and his partner, Kristin Ito, were walking home from a Seattle Sounders game when a stranger began repeatedly stabbing Ito, police said. Eyewitnesses said Wolff jumped in to help and the stranger turned on him, stabbing him in the neck and torso.

“It’s horrible,” said Christian Harding.  He and his wife, Jennifer Ruse-Harding, were finishing up a taxidermy class when they heard the commotion outside their business.

“All of a sudden we saw all these cop cars and ambulances and fire trucks,” said Ruse-Harding.  “So he went outside to see what was going on.”

Harding described what he saw.

>>> PHOTOS: Community college instructor dies in stabbing

"They had her whole face covered. And there was a, a lot of guys helping her out.  She didn't look good,” he said.

Ito is still being treated at Harborview Medical Center.  Wolff's family said he died there early Saturday morning.  Wolff had been at Shoreline Community College since 1996.  He was chairman of the English department. 

"He was a really caring person, and a really caring professor," said Wolff's former student Daniel Berman.  "It’s tragic it came to all of this."

“It's unfortunate that the neighborhood doesn't have more police presence or something to deter things like this from happening,” said Ruse-Harding.

But Seattle police officer Jim Ritter, who walks the beat here every day, says this neighborhood is not unsafe.

“Just be aware of who's around you and people approaching you and avoiding certain situations if you can,” said Ritter. “I think the incident that happened last night was an anomaly down here. It is not the norm.”

Berman disagrees.

"It just seems like these types of random attacks keep happening, and Pioneer Square attacks keep happening," he said.

The 44-year-old suspect, described by SPD as being of “diminished mental capacity,” is in the King County Jail.  He is being held for investigation of murder.

The Downtown Seattle Association released this statement Saturday afternoon: 

"News of this latest incident of violent behavior in Downtown Seattle is both heartbreaking and disturbing, and is a tragic example of why we've been asking local and state leaders for an immediate and sustained approach to increase public safety and mental health services. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and we call on our leaders to take the necessary steps to ensure resources for public safety and mental health services are responsive to community needs."