A 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death and a classmate critically wounded Wednesday morning after another student, armed with a switchblade, attacked both at a Bronx high school in a confrontation possibly sparked by bullying, the NYPD said. Police later charged Abel Cedeno, 18, with murder.
Officers took Cedeno into custody without incident at PS 67, Urban Assembly School for Wildlife, in the West Farms neighborhood, police said.
Detectives questioned him in the attacks, which took place at about 10:45 a.m., police said late Wednesday night.
Cedeno is accused of stabbing the 15-year-old once in the chest during a history class. The boy, identified Wednesday night as Matthew McCree, died at St. Barnabas Hospital, police said. A 16-year-old boy also suffered a stab wound to the chest and was listed in critical but stable condition, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce at a news conference at the 48th Precinct in the Bronx. The second victim’s identity was not released.
In addition to murder, Cedeno faces charges of attempted murder, manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, two counts of assault and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, the NYPD said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the news conference that metal detectors, which were not in use at the school Wednesday, will be positioned to randomly check students Thursday morning.
Boyce said the stabbings occurred after a simmering dispute that boiled over in the classroom.
“We believe this argument, this thing, has been going on for two weeks into the school year and escalated today, after some back and forth,” Boyce said.
A counselor in a hallway asked the student, later identified as Cedeno, for the switchblade, Boyce said, and the teenager complied before going to an administrator’s office to wait for police.
Detectives are investigating whether bullying was a factor leading up to the violence, Boyce said.
The stabbings sparked a rush of panicked parents to the campus at 2024 Mohegan Ave.
Lennette Berry, whose daughter Abbie Mincey, 13, was in theater class at the time of the attacks, said she immediately made her way to the school after Abbie called her.
“As a parent, any time that my children are near any form of danger it is unnerving.” Berry said after arriving at the school. “I’m thankful she had a phone and I was able to talk to her.”
Wednesday’s violence represented the first time in “many, many years” that a student had been killed as a result of a crime inside a city school, de Blasio said at the news conference, also attended by NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and School Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
Mayoral spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said the last student death from violence in a city school occured in 1993.
Chief Joanne Jaffe, head of the NYPD’s community affairs bureau, said long before Wednesday, the police department had determined metal detectors weren’t needed at the school. Metal detectors are in place at about 75 schools across the city, Jaffe said. The Bronx school building contains a high school, intermediate school and grade school on different floors.
The school had only seven serious crimes, including two assaults, in the 2016-2017 school year, according to NYPD statistics, and before Wednesday, none this year.
Boyce said had metal detectors been used, there was “no question” the knife, which had a 3-inch blade, would have been detected.
Grief and guidance counselors will be available, Fariña said.
Dejohn Jones, 41, a parent association president at a nearby school, said she came to console students at the crime scene but was having a hard time finding the right words to soothe them.
“I don’t even know what to say to these kids,” she said.
With Pervaiz Shallwani