On Monday, the Raleigh Police Department reported that two students were stabbed at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School and transported to the hospital, where one of the students died of injuries. The second victim remains hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, according to a press conference delivered by Raleigh Chief of Police Estella Patterson.
“One suspect is in custody, we are happy to report that, and there is no further threat to the school or to the community,” said Patterson who told media that the stabbing appeared to have happened during a fight.
The call to police was radioed in by a Southeast Raleigh Magnet’s school resource officer who attempted to administer first aid to the victims. According to the county superintendent of public schools, Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School does not use metal detectors. Instead, school officials search students only if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they may have a weapon. In this case, the victims were reportedly stabbed, but authorities have not released what the weapon was.
“We rely on other students to relay information to us, and we look at reasonable suspicion,” said Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor during Monday’s press conference. “At certain events, like sporting events, we may have more high-level ways of looking at students who may bring things into that arena, but this is what we do now. We search if we have probable cause.”
The school issued a Code Red emergency lockdown at 10:15 in the morning, alerting families to law enforcement presence on campus due to a “potential threat” and urging them not to come to campus. By 1:10 in the afternoon, the school notified families that carpool students will be transported to nearby Walnut Creek Amphitheatre for pickup while walkers and student drivers will leave through the regular process.
“We are working closely with school administrators regarding plans for tomorrow, and to identify every resource possible to support students and staff,” said Taylor, who told media they are working with law enforcement agencies in the investigation of this incident.
“As a parent, I cannot imagine getting that call, I just cannot imagine that,” he said. “I offer my prayers for those affected. However, most importantly, I pledge my resolve. Schools should be a safe haven for students and staff. What happened today is unacceptable. As superintendent, there is nothing more important than the well-being and safety of our students.”
Taylor told media that the district will review all safety procedures and protocols to see what changes need to be made, and he will present any recommendations to the Wake County School Board.
In March, a report presented to the North Carolina Board of Education revealed that crime and violence in the state’s public schools spiked 24% from the 2018/2019 school year to the 2021/2022 school year, attributing the trend to the COVID pandemic school shutdowns.
In January, a report from the U.S. Department of Education concluded that more than eight in 10 public schools “have seen stunted behavioral and socioemotional development in their students because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Eighty-four percent of surveyed public school officials said the pandemic had “negatively impacted the behavioral development of students” in their schools, and 36% reported an increase of threats of physical attacks or fights between students.