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MINNEAPOLIS -- Crime anywhere is senseless, but when an attacker strikes at one of the busiest intersections in the city of Minneapolis so violently it becomes unnerving.

"They couldn't have done anything else. They were travelling in pairs in a well lit area," Minneapolis Police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said Monday of the stabbing that took place earlier that morning of two 21 year old women.

The victims are students at the University of Minnesota and are roommates in the area where they were attacked at University and Hennepin Avenues in northeast Minneapolis.

They were walking home at around 12:30 a.m. Monday when police say there would be attacker, a heavyset black male who was wearing a mask and was acting alone, walked past them on Hennepin near the intersection of University.

After he passed the women police say he came back from behind them with a knife and grabbed one of them into a headlock.

"She tried to get away. He stabbed her in the back and then proceeded to stab the other female in the arm," Garcia said.

The first woman stabbed acted quickly because her roommate was stabbed in an artery that could have killed her, Garcia said.

"Her friend got stabbed in the brachial artery. She pulled off her shirt and put it around her friend's arm and basically saved her life"

News of what happened hit the northeast area community hard.

"Well it's shocking. I mean you would think it would be safer here because there are so many little stores around this," Bibelot manager Jolanda Huismen said. The store is located at the same intersection.

Less than a month ago, the Subway restaurant just a block away was robbed at 4:30 p.m. and three weeks ago a delivery driver was assaulted and robbed in the alley behind Lund's and Bibelot, just 50 feet from Monday's stabbing.

Minneapolis police say they do not have anyone in custody and are trying to locate surveillance video from area businesses to help track the man down.

CrimeStoppers is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who has information that could lead to an arrest.

The women are recovering from their injuries at HCMC where they are listed in satisfactory condition.

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