HOUSTON -

A man broke into a house and began stabbing his former girlfriend, the mother of his son, investigators said.

Houston police said the attack happened around 11 a.m. Thursday inside a house in the 9100 block of Hendon near Pella, where the victim and her children were alone with four other small children.

The man, identified by police as 21-year-old Eric Ayala, allegedly broke in through a rear window of the house and then began stabbing his former girlfriend.

"The sister was trying to pull him away and she said he was too strong, and he wouldn't let go of her," said neighbor Donna Fain. "She grabbed all four of the kids and ran out of the house."

Ayala and the victim moved outside, too, into the driveway, where police said he continued stabbing her. Ayala then began stabbing himself until police and security officers arrived and subdued him, officials said.

Authorities said the 20-year-old victim in that assault is recovering from as many as 20 stab wounds.

The children, ranging in age from 2 weeks to just 3 years old, weren't physically hurt, but three of them were close enough to see it all happen.

"Oldest child is traumatized," said Fain. "He's really not in a good place right now."

A year ago, Ayala was charged with assaulting the child's mother last year in a fight over the little boy. She had been granted a protective order and according to neighbors, was hiding from him. But he found her this morning.

The woman was listed in fair condition at Ben Taub General Hospital on Thursday afternoon.