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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — The victim of a brutal stabbing at an Art Basel exhibit on Miami Beach told police she did not know her attacker.
Siyuan Zhao, a 24-year-old student from New York, was immediately arrested following the incident which took place in front of dozens of art lovers at the Miami Beach Convention Center at an exhibit for artist Naomi Fisher.
Miami Beach Police said just before the attack, Zhao was reportedly following the victim around the art gallery, bumping into her several times intentionally. When the victim finally confronted Zhao, without provocation, Zhao pulled out an exacto knife and stabbed the woman in her arm and shoulder.
Witnesses initially thought the attack was part of a live art performance.
Hollywood artist and photographer Rudy Perez was standing nearby when a woman’s scream and the ensuing commotion alarmed him.
“We hear a scream and I thought it was part of the exhibit. Then I see police, I see someone on the floor,” said Perez. “And I’m like, ‘Is that real blood? Is that real police or part of the act?”
He quickly realized the bloody scene was not for show.
While in handcuffs, officers say Zhao spontaneously offered a glimpse of a motive, saying: “I had to kill her and two more” and “I had to watch her bleed.”
“She was just standing there calm. Almost smiling,” said Perez, while the suspect was being taken into police custody.
According to the arrest report, Zhao admitted to stabbing the woman in order to “clean” her.
The victim was rushed to Jackson Memorial’s Ryder Trauma Center.
Zhao was charged with attempted murder.
In an email to The Associated Press Friday, a spokesperson for Art Basel Miami said, “The attack was an isolated incident that was immediately secured. Our thoughts are with the victim.”