A 15-year-old student has been arrested after an East Chicago Central High School sophomore was stabbed at the school Tuesday morning.
Brenda Richmond said her 16-year-old son, Omar Kinnie, was stabbed in his right abdomen by another student with a box cutter after an altercation in the students' biology class.
Superintendent Paige McNulty confirmed the incident, saying a teacher witnessed the fight in a classroom and only noticed a slash in Kinnie's side after the students were separated. She said a security officer was onsite and responded when made aware of the situation.
"It was handled swiftly by administration, security and police," McNulty said. "As with all schools, our utmost priority is keeping students safe."
The East Chicago Police Department said the 15-year-old student suspected of the stabbing has been arrested and charged with battery through the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center. McNulty said the district will seek to expel the student.
It started with a fight
East Chicago parents were notified about the incident in a robo-call sent out about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Richmond said she was at work just before 10 a.m. Tuesday when the school nurse called to tell her Kinnie was being taken to the hospital with a stab wound.
She said she rushed from her work in Hammond to the emergency room in St. Catherine's Hospital in East Chicago, where Kinnie was receiving treatment. He received 15 stitches in total, his mother said.
"The doctor said it was 5 inches deep," Richmond said of her son's wound. "If there was any more pressure, I don't know if my son would be here today."
At the hospital, Richmond said Kinnie described what happened. It all started with two kids snickering about a haircut, she said.
A boy her son seldom spoke with came to class Tuesday morning with the haircut, she said, and other students in the room joined in on the teasing. Kinnie laughed, she said, prompting a fight between her son and the boy with the haircut.
She said her son didn't realize he had been stabbed until he lifted his shirt and saw the blood. He then left the room, he said, looking for help and eventually made his way to the school nurse.
A statement from the East Chicago Police Department describes the altercation from the other student's perspective. The 15-year-old told police that he did not stab Kinnie, according to the statement, and that it was Kinnie who provoked the fight.
Other students who witnessed the fight told police they saw the 15-year-old grab Kinnie by the neck, according to the statement.
A mother speaks out about violence
The incident has Richmond asking how something like this could happen at school. She's speaking out now, she said, because she sees too much violence in the city.
“It’s been too much going on in East Chicago,” Richmond said. “I can’t just let this happen and not do something about it.”
It's not clear how a student came to possess a box cutter in the high school classroom.
Richmond has two students at East Chicago Central, Kinnie and his older brother who is a senior. She said both of her sons have told her the school has metal detectors, but rarely uses them.
“The governor has provided handheld metal detectors that are used on an as-needed basis,” McNulty said. “Not all students are wanded, but we are using them.”
Richmond said her son has follow-up appointments to see his doctors and will try to return to school later this week. She said she has been in contact with an attorney, and asked East Chicago Central’s principal for a meeting with the School Board.
“It’s kids,” Richmond said. “We have to do something. We have to let it be known that this is happening.”