Student fatally stabbed at Coral Gables High School, 1 person in custody
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (WSVN) -- Police have identified the student stabbed to death at Coral Gables Sr. High School after an altercation with another student.
Tuesday afternoon, after the organized dismissal of students from the school, Miami-Dade Police Detective Rebeca Perez announced that Juan Carlos Rivera, 17, a 10th grader at the school, died as a result of a confrontation with another student on campus, who police have not identified.
She did not release many more details beyond that. "The cause of death is under investigation at this time," she said. "It occurred on school property during the time between classes."
Miami-Dade Police said, soon after 9:15 a.m., between first and second school periods, they detained the student suspected of stabbing Rivera and began their investigation, interviewing students and locking down the school while they investigated. "The detaining of that suspect was by the Coral Gables Police Department moments after the incident," Perez said.
Soon after reports of the stabbing and lock down went out on the airwaves, parents began arriving outside the school, fearing for their children's safety but had to wait until about noon for the controlled release of students to begin. Police had to assure the students' parents that their children were safe, while police continued to investigate the murder scene.
As for the suspect, a media helicopter captured Miami-Dade detectives escorting him into police headquarters. Perez said charges against him remain pending, and she refused to go into details as to how the two knew each other, if at all. "I do not have any information as to whether there was a history," she said.
Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also took an opportunity to speak to the press and asked that the media respect the privacy of the victim's family while they mourn their loss. "These are beautiful people I spoke with, who deeply touched me," he said. "I offered to the family whatever economic assistance we can provide, whatever moral support and political support in anything this family might need at this point."
He also said the dismissal of the students, soon after police lifted the lock down at about noon, went smoothly, and that school will proceed as normal on Wednesday, though evening and adult classes were cancelled for that night only. "Despite the tragedy, we expect that tomorrow will be a normal school day," he said.
He also took a moment to address concerns of violence on school campuses. "Unfortunately, I think it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to prevent a random act of violence," he said.
So far, class has not been in session for more than a month and it has proved a bad start to the school year. Guns have been found on campuses just last week and yesterday. On Monday, a 14-year-old boy at Madison Middle School in Miami-Dade showed off a gun he had in his backpack, which a teacher confiscated without incident.
Last Friday, Miami-Dade Schools Police arrested three students, two from Westview Middle School and one from North Miami Beach Sr. High, for bringing guns to schools.
The Miami-Dade school system is also no stranger to fatal stabbings at their schools. On Feb. 3, 2004, at Southwood Middle School, Michael Hernandez, 14, stabbed his friend Jamie Gough, also 14, to death in one of the school's bathrooms.
The most recent fatality on a school campus occurred in Broward County. On Nov. 12, 2008, then 15-year-old Teah Wimberly admitted to shooting and killing her friend Amanda Collette, also 15, at Dillard High School in Miramar. Wimberly still awaits trial. Her attorney plans to use the insanity defense.
"I understand the frustration," Carvalho said about the recent violence at local schools. "The fact that it happend here today, the fact that it happened once in Broward last year, the fact it happens across the country, it's a lesson for all of us."
Despite these recent scenes of violence at local schools, Carvalho said, there is no safer place for children to be when away from the care of their parents. "It should be noted that schools, in my opionion, is the safest place for kids to be," he said.
Miami-Dade Schools has set up the following hotline for parents to get information on this fatal altercation of school grounds and how it will affect functions at the school and its students: (305) 995-3000. Grief counselors were also provided to any of those students who feel the need to talk about the incident.
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