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Bronx school stabbing leaves student dead, another injured, NYPD says

A student is dead and another is in

A student is dead and another is in critical condition after a stabbing at a Bronx school Wednesday morning, Sept. 27, 2017, police said. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

A bullied student fatally stabbed a classmate and critically injured another during history class Wednesday morning at a Bronx high school that doesn't have metal detectors, sources said.

Abel Cedeno, 18, stabbed both students in the chest on the fifth floor of the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation on Mohegan Avenue, between East 178th and East 179th streets, at about 10:45 a.m., police said. The 15-year-old who died was identified as Matthew McCree and the other victim was identified as Ariane Laboy, 16, according to the criminal complaint.

"All of our hearts are heavy right now," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference at the NYPD's 48th Precinct in the Bronx. "It’s unacceptable to ever lose a child to violence in a school building."

All three students were sitting in their third-period history class, which had 15 to 20 students in it, for about 30 minutes when an argument escalated to violence, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at the news conference.

Both victims were taken to St. Barnabas Hospital where McCree was pronounced dead and Laboy was in critical condition.

Shortly after the stabbing, Cedeno walked out of the classroom and was confronted by a counselor in the hallway who asked for the knife, Boyce said. He then walked to the assistant principal's office and waited there while police were called.

Cedeno was charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, two counts of assault and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, according to police. The knife, a switchblade with a 3-inch blade and a 4-inch handle, was recovered at the school, Boyce said.

The weapon would have been picked up by a metal detector, "no question," Boyce said. Chief of Community Affairs Joanne Jaffe said it had been previously determined that the school didn't need metal detectors. She did not explain how that determination had been made.

Eighth-grader Abbie-Mikaylah Mincey, 13, said she was in her theater class when the school was put on lockdown. She quickly fired off a text to her mom.

“I just wanted her to know that I was OK,” she said.

The teen’s mom, Lennette Berry, 39, responded back asking what was going on.

Mincey told her mom she could hear police sirens and people yelling, but wasn’t sure why. Some of the students in her class hid their book bags after the lockdown was announced on the PA system, she said.

"They didn't want to make it seem like someone was in the room, so you could come in and stab or shoot us,” Mincey said. “So, we all got into one of the cubbies … we stood there or sat down in there.”

Whenever someone would knock on the classroom door, people in the cubbies would get "dead quiet," she recalled.

De Blasio said this was the first time in “many, many years” that a student had been lost from a crime committed inside a public school. Mayoral spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie later said the last student death due to violence in a city school occurred in 1993.

"And at this moment we have one child’s life that was lost, one child fighting for his life, and another child – the one who committed this action – whose life will be destroyed by this action," the mayor said.

This school in particular had seven serious crimes, including two assaults, in the 2016-2017 school year, according to NYPD statistics, and before Wednesday, none this year.

There will be random screenings with hand wands and bag checks when classes resume on Thursday, Jaffe said.

There are about 1,100 students in the building, which also houses the elementary school PS 67, with students ranging from prekindergarten to fifth grade, according to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation is made up of both middle and high school students.

Fariña said the Department of Education is working with the NYPD and providing counseling for students. "I’m heartbroken at the loss of one of our students and this tragedy should never have taken place."

As news of the stabbing spread through the community, parents rushed to the school to find out about their own children, said Dejohn Jones, 41, the president of a parent association at a nearby school who went to console students at the crime scene. 

“I don’t even know what to say to these kids,” she said.

Word of the stabbing swiftly spread on social media, including Snapchat, Mincey said. But parents rushing to the school to check on their children were kept away from the scene, which didn’t sit well with many of them.

"As a parent, any time that my children are near any form of danger it is unnerving,” said Berry, of Williamsbridge. “I'm thankful she had a phone and I was able to talk to her.”

Some were seen yelling at officials as police held off about 100 parents.

City Council members Rafael Salamanca Jr. and Ritchie Torres, whose districts are in the Bronx, said the City Council would work "diligently" in the next few weeks to strengthen school safety procedures and practices.

"...No parent should have to fear for the safety of their children when they send them to school," the councilmembers said in a joint statement.

An investigation into the incident was ongoing, officials said.

With Lauren Cook and Alison Fox

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