NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – An 18-year-old student who had been involved in a two-week long argument stabbed two fellow students, killing one, at a Bronx high school Wednesday morning, according to officials.
The incident took place in the building at 2024 Mohegan Avenue in the East Tremont section at around 10:45 a.m. The building houses PS 67 and the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation. The students involved went to the Urban Assembly for Wildlife Conservation school. It happened in a classroom with 15-20 other students in it during the school’s third period, officials said.
Paramedics scrambled to save the teenage victims. Friends said 16-year-old Ariane LaBoy was the teen in critical condition, they said one of his best friends — 15-year-old Matthew McCree — was killed.
“He was a really fun person. All he would do is chill, stay to himself, he was funny, funny kid,” Noad Nvarez said.
They were both attacked on the fifth floor by the 18-year-old, who was wielding a switchblade, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
After the stabbing, the suspect was confronted by the school’s counselor who recovered the knife, Boyce said. The suspect was then taken to the assistant principal’s office where he sat awaiting authorities.
The 18-year-old, later identified as Abel Cedeno, was walked out of the school in handcuffs, head lowered, and silent.
He has been charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, assault, and possession of a weapon. It was unclear Wednesday night, if Cedeno’s mother knew of the charges against her son. She is in Puerto Rico.
Cedeno had been involved with an escalating “back-and-forth” with the victims for the past two weeks, Boyce said.
“He has made statements to us explaining what happened which I will not go into right now,” Boyce said.
The NYPD say they are looking into bullying as a possible motive. The suspect told officers he had been bullied since the beginning of the school year, and the breaking point came after someone threw a pencil at him during history class.
Cedeno’s friends told CBS2′ he had been picked on at school for years.
“He’s mellow, he’s a good person,” Yanique Heatley said.
“He usually gets bullied a lot so I guess he did that to scare them, than actually hurt anyone,” Asia Johnson told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
The facility was placed on lockdown after the incident.
“All our hearts are very heavy right now. I want to speak first as a parent. Our hearts go out to the families who have been affected by this tragedy. This is something that every parent, every morning, worries about the safety of their child. At this moment we have one child’s life was lost. One child fighting for his life. And another child, the one who committed this action, whose life will be destroyed by by this action. This is a painful, painful tragedy,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It has been many, many years in this city since we lost a child in a school in this kind of violent incident, and it is all the more troubling for that reason.”
The school does not have metal detectors, officials said. That policy will be reviewed.
“There will be immediate, random screening done with metal detectors starting tomorrow,” de Blasio said.
“Every parent has the right to expect that when they send their children to school in the morning, they will come back at 3 o’clock, and in very good shape. Today, unfortunately, some families will not be feeling this security,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina. “There will be grief counselors and extra guidance counselors in the school for not only the students but for the teachers and anyone else who wants to avail themselves of them.”
Angry parents, some in tears, gathered outside the school demanding they be allowed to pick up their children. Police and emergency crews swarmed the 1,100-student school, located in a large red brick building that also houses a public elementary school.
Denise Jackson, mother of a high school freshman Briana Collins, said she was terrified. She doesn’t know what she’ll do about Briana attending the school in the wake of the attack.
“She hasn’t been here for a month yet. I don’t know if I want to keep her here, I just don’t know.”
It’s the first homicide at a New York City school since 2014, when a fight between two 14-year-old boys ended with one stabbed to death outside Intermediate School 117 in the Bronx.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)