A 31-year-old woman with mental health issues who allegedly stabbed a Boston EMT seven times inside an ambulance on Wednesday was questioned by law enforcement the day before the attack regarding a hoax bomb threat at multiple airports, an official said.
State Police spokesman David Procopio confirmed on Thursday that investigators spoke to Julie Tejeda on Tuesday as part of an ongoing probe into the threat made to airports, including one on Martha’s Vineyard. Investigators also spoke with a friend of Tejeda’s and relatives, Procopio said in an e-mail.
Tejeda, 31, of East Boston, was cooperative, had no criminal history, had no history of violence against herself or others, exhibited “no terroristic intentions,” and had a support network of friends and family within the same household, according to State Police.
Procopio said investigators decided to seize her phone through a “court-authorized warrant in furtherance of the ongoing hoax threat investigation.”
Details regarding Wednesday’s stabbing emerged at Boston Municipal Court on Thursday, where Tejeda was arraigned on charges including assault with intent to murder.
Tejeda was upset about going to a hospital and was smiling after the attack, authorities said.
At her arraignment, Tejada was held without bail.
Dozens of the wounded EMT’s colleagues packed the arraignment Thursday to show their support. The victim is a 14-year Boston EMS veteran.
Boston police responded around 4 p.m. Wednesday to a report of the stabbing at the edge of the city’s West End near the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse, where the ambulance had pulled over, authorities said.
A police report filed in the case said the victim was lying on the ground on New Chardon Street after the attack with stab wounds to her left upper thigh and left torso area. She also had pepper spray on her face and eyes, the report said.
She was released from Massachusetts General Hospital on Thursday and will continue her recovery at home, according to a statement from Boston EMS.
Prosecutors said the EMTs had initially responded to a call for a well-being check for an emotionally disturbed person when they picked up Tejeda in East Boston. They said Tejeda became upset that she was being taken to the hospital. She was being taken to Mass. General when she attacked the EMT, officials said.
Officers found Tejeda smiling inside the ambulance, sitting upright on a gurney with her legs crossed, according to the report.
Tejeda told police without any prompting, “It was me. I did it. I stabbed her,” the report said.
Police saw a black canister of pepper spray behind Tejeda on the floor of the ambulance, the document said, and found a black folding-style knife on the street directly outside the side door of the ambulance.
Tejeda, the report said, also told investigators, “The EMT was forcing me to go to the hospital, so I attacked her because she was making me feel uncomfortable.”
Tejeda, wearing a black and white patterned blouse, appeared to be calm and remained silent during Thursday’s hearing. The presiding judge said Tejeda would meet with a clinician before returning to the courtroom to see how the case should proceed.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, said Tejeda wouldn’t be posting bail any time soon.
“We asked for a very high bail or for her to be held for an evaluation, which is fancy language for she’s not walking out of this courthouse and possibly being able to injure somebody else,” Rollins said.
She added that the clinician was brought in because Tejeda could have “some significant potential mental health issues.”
“If that clinician determines that this individual has significant mental health issues, or cannot communicate with her counsel, then we’re going to move to a different step,” Rollins said. “At that point, we would have to wait to see what the judge says.”
The district attorney said Tejeda has “been charged with some very serious crimes.”
Boston EMS Chief James Hooley also addressed reporters during the break in the court proceedings.
Hooley said the wounded EMT was in some pain but “doing better.” Hooley said the EMT’s family is “trying to get some normalcy.”
The victim’s partner, a 10-year veteran of Boston EMS who came to her aid during the attack, was treated and released at the hospital for exposure to the pepper spray.
Hooley said he was proud to see the outpouring of support shown by EMS personnel who came to the courthouse.
“They care for each other,” he said.
When the hearing resumed Thursday, the court clinician said Tejeda is a “very intelligent woman” with a history of mental health issues.
Tejeda recently stopped her medication and therapy, the clinician said, because she wanted to “take a break” from it.
Tejeda was ordered held without bail pending a further competency examination.
The next hearing in the case is slated for July 31.