Student charged with attempted murder after stabbing

January 22, 2008 4:59:05 PM PST
A 16-year-old Elgin high school student accused of attacking a teacher with a knife last week is now charged with attempted murder. School district administrators say the teacher, Carolyn Gilbert, is a dedicated, highly qualified and highly regarded teacher, who's been with Elgin High School for the last two years. The attack has caused her to lose vision in her right eye and also has led to attempted murder charges against the student who allegedly attacked her.

Tuesday was the first day back to school for students and teachers at Elgin High School since the stabbing of the teacher on Friday morning. Attendance was normal, despite some concerns about security.

"I was hoping maybe we could have a metal detector or something. To slip a knife on school grounds or anything, it seems like it was that easy," said student Eduardo Hernandez.

It was just after the end of the school day on Friday when prosecutors say a 16-year-old student entered the classroom of 50-year-old Gilbert. After a brief conversation, they say, the student put a coat over her head and attacked her with a steak knife he brought from home. Another teacher heard her screams and detained the student, while calling for help for the teacher.

"Obviously the student had intentions of bringing this to school for a reason. And that's what happened. So random, I wouldn't call it random, I would call it senseless. I would call it horrific," said John Heiderscheidt, District U-46 security director.

The student's identity is protected because he's being charged with attempted first-degree murder as a juvenile.

Prosecutors say they have yet to figure out what sparked the attack. The student was in Ms. Gilbert's class last year, but they know of no history of problems so far.

The school district said it is re-evaluating security procedures. This is the worst attack on a teacher in the district's history.

"What can we do to prevent these things? I'm not sure we can prevent someone from doing this who is bent on hurting someone," said Heiderscheidt.

Elgin High School was not equipped with metal detectors at the doors. Administrators carry handheld detectors.

Gilbert said she's resting at home and requesting her privacy. She has expressed hope to administrators that she will be able to return to work at the school soon.