A University of Hartford drama student is accused of stabbing two classmates while practicing a scene from the 2004 movie thriller The Butterfly Effect for a class project, Hartford police said Monday.
Jake Wascher, a 21-year-old commuter student, was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree assault and criminal attempt to commit murder after the Sunday rehearsal-gone-wrong inside a Connecticut campus apartment building.
The two male victims—a 19-year-old and 21-year-old who have not been identified—are currently at St. Francis Hospital in critical condition.
“The University of Hartford campus community is deeply saddened by the serious incident involving the assault of two students on campus this afternoon,” the school said in a statement obtained by The Daily Beast. “Our thoughts are with these students and their families during this difficult time.”
Police allege that around 1 p.m. on Sunday, Wascher and his two classmates were “acting out” a pivotal stabbing scene from the movie that starred Ashton Kutcher when Wascher, a senior, began to use the prop knife to repeatedly stab his classmates in the back and chest.
“A 21-year-old male suffered one puncture wound to the chest and four to the back. A second victim, a 19-year-old male, suffered from a single puncture wound to the chest as well as a puncture wound to the back," Lt. Paul Cicero said Monday.
Wascher then fled the apartment on foot, prompting police to put the main campus on lockdown.
“Emergency on Main Campus. Police activity in the area of Village quad 2. More info to follow,” the University of Hartford tweeted just after 2 p.m..
Two hours later, police found Wascher hiding in the woods near the main campus. He immediately surrendered and was apprehended.
The 19-year-old victim remains in critical condition after undergoing surgery and is currently in the intensive care unit, police said, while the 21-year-old, who lives on campus, is in serious but stable condition.
“While there is no ongoing threat to campus, we recognize that this isolated incident is frightening and unsettling,” the school said.
In The Butterfly Effect, college student Evan Treborn, played by Kutcher, is afflicted with severe headaches that cause him to frequently black out. While unconscious, Kutcher’s character is able to travel back in time to painful moments in his childhood and alter the past for his friends—an act that puts himself in nightmarish alternate realities.
Police are unclear on what led Wascher to go from play-acting a violent scene to actually stabbing his classmates.
“We don’t know what the motive is, we don’t know what happened,” Cicero said. “Obviously the two victims are being treated at the hospital right now, those are obviously critical witnesses, not just victims. We do want to talk to them. Their well-being is of utmost importance, so we’re certainly not going to rush it.”
Wascher, originally from San Diego, has been a University of Hartford student since 2018, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in fine art at the school’s Hartt School. According to the school’s website, the 21-year-old was part of the costume crew in the Hartt School’ production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in February.
“The Hartt School at University of Hartford for BFA Acting 2022. Here I come!!,” Wascher posted on Facebook last April.
He is expected to be arraigned from a hospital on Monday, instead of Hartford Superior Court, a court clerk told The Daily Beast.
It is not immediately unclear why the 21-year-old was seeking hospital treatment, after a emergency responder deemed him uninjured following his arrest, police said.
He is currently being held on a $1-million bond.