An 18-year-old student named Abel Cedeno is in jail without bail and under suicide watch after a school stabbing. Cedeno fatally stabbed 15-year-old Matthew McCree and slashed 16-year-old Ariane Laboy. (Laboy survived.) Both of the younger teens were fellow students in Cedeno’s history class at their high school in the Bronx of New York City. According to Cedeno’s friends, the two younger students tormented him with homophobic taunts, racist slurs and physical violence until Cedeno retaliated.
Savannah Hornbeck, a friend of Cedeno, told New York Daily News, “The kids were calling him a faggot, calling him a spic. After it had been reported numerous times and there was no reaction from the school, Abel felt (there was) no other way out.”
A Cedeno family friend named Iris Couvertier spoke with Dedeno after his arrest and said, “Those two kids in the class, they hit him. He said that they hit him in the face. He said it’s because he’s gay or bisexual.”
City Education Department officials refused to say whether Cedeno had reported any instances of bullying by McCree and Laboy.
Police say that at the time of the school stabbing, both McCree and Laboy had been throwing broken bits of a wooden pencil at the back of Cedeno’s head. Cedeno had purchased a switchblade knife online two weeks before the stabbing and used the knife to slash his tormentors inside the classroom as horrified classmates looked on.
All the students involved attended the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the West Farms area of the Bronx, close to the Bronx zoo. The school building reportedly suffers from overcrowding of students, and has for several years.
A 2016 city Education Department survey found that only 19% of teachers and 55% of student reported feeling safe at the school. Both percentages fall well below city averages.
Featured image by GeorgiaCourt via iStock