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Stabbing death of Khaseen Morris is disturbing in many ways

Photo of stabbing victim Khaseen Morris, 16, who

Photo of stabbing victim Khaseen Morris, 16, who was stabbed in the chest on Monday afternoon in the parking lot of a strip mall in Oceanside and died later, Sept. 16, 2019. Credit: Keyanna Morris

To the crowd of teen onlookers hovering Monday afternoon at a strip mall that is a regular gathering spot for Oceanside High School students, the fight they were waiting to see probably didn't sound momentous. In high school, big brawls are often rumored but rarely materialize. Even if punches do fly, little of significance happens. Faces and reputations are bruised, anecdotes generated.

But on Monday afternoon, Khaseen Morris and at least one friend were attacked by six or seven youths, and Morris was stabbed. Morris, 16, died at a local hospital. On Wednesday, Tyler Flach, an 18-year-old from Lido Beach, was arrested in connection with the stabbing and charged with murder in the second degree.  Based on police statements and videos online, many of the 50 to 70 students present used their phones to record the brawl — and images of Morris bleeding on the sidewalk — rather than try to prevent the killing or  help Morris after the fight. 

The videos show a frightening, one-sided melee, with those six or seven young men brutally punching and kicking Morris and a friend, who suffered a broken arm and head injury. The scene of gaping onlookers recording such suffering rather than addressing it is disappointing and disconcerting. But we don't have all the facts yet, and given the level of violence, anyone intervening to stop it would have been brave, and maybe foolish.

Police say they need more information from combatants and onlookers to make their case. The kids who were there, who did not or could not prevent the attack on Morris and failed to aid him as he lay dying, must at least help deliver justice. —The editorial board