Former U.S Army officer in Vanderbilt student tour group killed on trip to Israel
(CNN) — A former U.S. Army officer who was part of a Vanderbilt University tour group was stabbed to death in a terror attack that left 10 others wounded in an old section of Tel Aviv, officials said Tuesday.
Taylor Force, a first-year student in the graduate school of management, was killed, Vanderbilt chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced.
“This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world,” Zeppos said.
The school said in a separate statement that Force was among 29 students and four staff members who had gone to Israel to study global entrepreneurship. They were in Jaffa by the Mediterranean Sea when they were attacked.
All the other trip participants from Vanderbilt are safe, the Nashville, Tennessee, school said.
According to Force’s LinkedIn page, he graduated from West Point in 2009 and was a field artillery officer in the U.S. Army until 2014.
Force started an MBA study in 2015. At the time, he told the website Poets and Quants that he went to Vanderbilt because of the support for veterans, the diversity of students and the quality of education.
“In addition to learning the skills needed to be successful in business, I want to establish life-long connections and friendships with my fellow students from the U.S. and around the globe,” he said.
The U.S. State Department confirmed Force’s death and condemned the attack.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Taylor and all those affected by these senseless attacks, and we wish a speedy recovery for the injured,” spokesman John Kirby said. “As we have said many times, there is absolutely no justification for terrorism.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to Force’s family.
“May his memory be a blessing,” Netanyahu said.
The stabbing attack occurred along a popular oceanfront boardwalk in southern Tel Aviv not far from where U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting.
“In these moments, terror attacks are taking place in streets adjacent to us,” said former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres during a meeting with Biden at the Peres Center for Peace.
Biden “condemned in the strongest possible terms the brutal attack” that took the life of one of his countrymen at the same time, and around the same area, that he was meeting with Peres.
“There is no justification for such acts of terror,” the vice president’s office said in a statement. “(Biden) expressed sorrow at the tragic loss of American life.”
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweeted that the attacker, a Palestinian from the West Bank, was fatally shot by police.
Luba Samri, also with Israel police, told CNN that at least four people were stabbed near the Jaffa port and another three or more were stabbed as the attacker moved north on the boardwalk, a popular spot with shops and restaurants along the waterfront.
An American who lives in Tel Aviv told CNN that she was walking home from work when she saw people running toward her.
“They were shouting, ‘The terrorist, he’s stabbing people,'” said Emily Young, who is originally from Scarsdale, New York.
Young went to help a victim who had been stabbed in the eye. She put something on the wound to stop the bleeding and tried to communicate, but the Russian tourist cannot speak Hebrew or English. Young rolled him over to check for more wounds and found one in the man’s back. Young, who had some first-aid training while in the Israeli military, applied pressure to the wound.
She waited with him until emergency workers took them to the hospital.
Tuesday’s incident is among a spate of terrorist attacks that Israeli authorities have blamed on Palestinians, be they from the West Bank or elsewhere.
A large number of these attacks have been stabbings, though guns and cars — used to run over people — also have been used. Israeli authorities have responded, at times, with crackdowns in Palestinian areas.
Also on Tuesday, Rosenfeld reported that a “terrorist with (an) automatic weapon” opened fire in Jerusalem. Two Israeli policeman were seriously injured before the attacker was killed.
Authorities shot and killed a female terrorist behind an “attempted stabbing” in Jerusalem’s Old City, Rosenfeld tweeted.