Raleigh school canceled classes, activities Monday and Tuesday
RALEIGH, N.C. -- School is canceled Tuesday at a North Carolina high school after a deadly stabbing.
Raleigh police obtained a secure custody order for a 14-year-old suspect, and he was charged with murder.
Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School was on a Code Red lockdown most of the day Monday after two students were stabbed. A 15-year-old student later died from his injuries. The other student, a 16-year-old, remained hospitalized with what were described as non-life-threatening injuries.
Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said it appears there was a fight prior to the stabbing. The School Resource Officer (SRO) took a juvenile suspect in custody, Patterson said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Daniela Fortin will never forget her PE class on her first day back from Thanksgiving break.
"There were a lot of people screaming and crying," Fortin said.
Chaos unfolded just feet away from her in the school gym.
Cell phone videos circulated on social media documented a fight that broke out, and then, moments later, two students were stabbed.
"There were a lot of people around him, and they were very concerned about him, and it was very scary," Fortin said of the student who later died. "A very traumatic experience, there were videos of what happened ... I don't know how to explain it, but it was so sad seeing all of the videos."
Those videos will become evidence for Raleigh police.
Counselors will be made available to students and staff at the school this week.
"Just being in the building, the fear of the unknown, creates paranoia, right? It stirs up like you said, anxieties and fears, thoughts of 'this could happen to me, this could happen again,'" said Dr. Shonte Frederick with Frederick's Christian Counseling.
Frederick made a plea to parents to make sure their kids are OK, and offered herself and her services free of charge for parents of Southeast Raleigh High students.
"I've been receiving phone calls, texts, emails, and we are ready to assist; we are ready to service the needs of our community of our youth," Frederick said.
"Our hearts go out to the victim's loved ones," the school said in a statement. "Please keep them and all of those that have been impacted by this loss in your thoughts ... please know that the student who passed away was a valued member of our school community, and we grieve this loss alongside his loved ones."
The family of the student who died spoke briefly to ABC Raleigh-Durham affiliate WTVD, saying their loved one was 15 years old. The distraught family added that they are still trying to process what happened and are working through their grief.
They added that they plan to hold a balloon release in his memory sometime later this week.
Wake County Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor acknowledged that the incident was disturbing, and changes to the district's safety protocols may be on the way in the coming days.
"Schools should be a safe haven for our students and staff. What happened here today is unacceptable," he said. "As superintendent, I can tell you, there is nothing more important than the well-being and the safety of our students."
Taylor said that Wake County does not utilize metal detectors as a safety mechanism, but that SROs are able to search students if they have a "reasonable suspicion that a student has a weapon." Taylor said that criteria were not met Monday in the lead-up to the fight and stabbing, but a safety review from the district will take place.
"In the aftermath of today's tragedy, we will review all of our safety processes and protocols to determine what happened and what changes may need to be made," he said.
Taylor also shared his condolences with the family of the student who was killed in the stabbing.
"I want to share my condolences with the family and the loved ones of the victim. As a parent, I can't imagine getting that call. I just cannot imagine that," he said. "I offer my prayers to those affected and pledge my resolve."
Parents also expressed concern and frustration.
"We never know what's going to happen at any given time," Saleemah Abdullah said. "Of course, we don't expect these things to happen. But we do hope that if it does happen, that our children are safe. And that whoever has done this is found and to see what kind of troubled mind that they may have to be able to do something like this. And hopefully, get them help."
One woman, who said she was a parent but did not wish to be identified, said, "It's super frustrating because, of course, this is one of my fears as a parent is sending my kids off to school on a daily basis. I just feel like things -- something needs to be done about it.".
Jayden Bellamy is the brother of a student who is new to the school.
"My sister, she just comes to school to learn," Bellamy said. "She does what she needs to do. She's a good student. It's just stuck in a situation. It's unfortunate."
The Code Red lockdown was in effect until 2:20 p.m., at which point students were released as usual with the exception of carpool students, who were transported elsewhere to be picked up.
School leaders canceled all after-school activities on Monday and Tuesday.
"This is a time for all of us to come together and support each other," school officials added. "We are a school family and we will continue to support one another as we process this loss and navigate this challenging time together.
Gov. Roy Cooper said violence in schools is not acceptable.
"We are heartbroken for the students, educators and families of Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School and we grieve for this tragic loss," Cooper said on social media. "We cannot accept violence in our schools and we must continue to work to identify threats and ensure the safety of students and teachers so they can focus on teaching and learning."
Congressman Wiley Nickel, D-NC-13, who represents the area, also reacted to the news of the fatal stabbing.
"I'm devastated to hear that a Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School student has tragically passed away and another has been injured in a senseless act of violence," Nickel said. "My thoughts are with the victims' families and loved ones affected by this tragedy right here in our community. We can and must do more to keep our kids safe."
Anyone with information or evidence related to this incident is asked to please contact the Raleigh Police Department at (919) 996-1193.