A 13-year-old junior high student suffered multiple stabbing injuries Thursday in a Los Banos park during a fire drill at his school.
The teenager suffered multiple stab wounds and cuts to his arm and abdomen. The victim was airlifted to UC Davis hospital. He was in surgery Thursday afternoon and listed in “stable” condition, Los Banos police Cmdr. Jason Hedden said.
A 14-year-old classmate has been arrested in connection with the stabbing. He was booked into the Iris Garret Juvenile Justice Correctional Complex on suspicion of attempted murder, Hedden said.
Investigators seized a “folding knife,” believed to be the weapon used in the attack, police said.
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The two boys know each other and got into some type of argument just before 10 a.m. during the fire drill at the junior high campus at 1750 San Luis Street. Students reportedly were in the park as part of the evacuation exercise, police said.
No other injuries were reported.
After the stabbing, school staff members followed the 14-year-old suspect at a distance to a dirt field about two blocks from the campus. The staff members convinced the suspect get down on the ground and then relayed the teen’s location to police, Hedden said. He was apprehended without incident by officers a short time later.
Police said no other suspects are being sought and the investigation is continuing.
“At this time, we believe this was an isolated incident,” Hedden said. “So far there is no indication of either the victim or the suspect having any gang connections.”
In a news conference held in front of the school late Thursday, Los Banos Superintendent Steve Tietjen said the incident was sparked by personal problems between the two boys, possibly involving “money or a girl.”
According to Tietjen, neither student has had a disciplinary issue since November. The previous issues did not involve bullying and were unrelated to Thursday’s incident.
Tietjen said routinely the more than 1,500 students are split between two areas of campus for fire drill exercises, but because of a revamp to one of the school’s fields the park was used instead.
About one-third of the students were in the grass area at the time of the incident, according to school officials.
Tietjen said thanks to a substitute physical education teacher, staff members and campus security, the suspect was apprehended, which was the reason why the campus was not put on lock down following the attack. “There was no reason to lock the school down,” he said.
Tietjen said the district plans to look into ways to prevent future incidents from happening.
“We do everything that we can to eliminate this kind of behavior but we need community and parent involvement,” he said. “Parents need to make sure that their students are coming to school ready to learn and not coming with weapons. I would hate to have our system go to a point where we have to treat students like we’re in an inner-city and have metal detectors at the gate.”
Several parents picking up their kids Thursday said they were concerned for the safety of their students.
Daniel Torres is one concerned parent. He was picking up his 12-year-old daughter and nephew after school. He said he believes the school did what they were required to do to ensure the safety of the kids, but wished he would have been notified.
Denise Robinson, a parent who was at the news conference, said she would like to see the district implement a random search on the kids.
The school is already gated and locked, but Robinson said if the gates are there, why not take it a step further to ensure more safety. “Why have it locked if you’re not going to take care of the other part,” Robinson said.
A phone message was scheduled for Thursday notifying parents of the incident and a flier was sent home with students.
Classes were already canceled today due to the week of the Merced County Spring Fair but psychologists will be on hand Monday for those who may need someone to talk to.
According to school officials, there are around four full-time security officers employed on campus as well as two part-time officers.