5 students injured in Valparaiso slashing

High school freshman smuggles knives into classroom, assaults classmates

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Nov. 29, 2004 


VALPARAISO -- The last of five Valparaiso High School students cut, in what police said was a knife attack by a classmate, was released from a hospital.

Four of the cut students and two others who suffered pain from other injuries were treated and released within hours of Wednesday morning's attack, but Michelle Anderson, 15, had been kept at Porter hospital overnight for observation.

A nursing supervisor at the hospital said Anderson was released Thursday and was in good condition.

Shirley Olis, the mother of 14-year-old victim Kory Erb, said her son had cuts to his face and across the back of his head. A plastic surgeon had worked on him, and he was doing well, she said.

"He's sore," Olis said. "I'm glad it's over."

The 15-year-old freshman carrying two hidden knives closed a classroom door last week and began slashing his classmates as they were watching a Spanish class video, authorities said.

"The student then brandished two large, edged weapons and began swinging them at students in the classroom," Police Chief Michael Brickner said. "Students began to flee from the classroom, and he fled from the classroom and was tackled to the floor by school faculty members."

Students described a struggle in a hallway after the attack and said they saw blood on the hallway floor.

"The kid, after he stabbed them, he ran out of the room and a bunch of teachers tackled him," said sophomore Clark Hogan, who was in a nearby classroom. "I saw the lady kick the knife down the hallway. She kicked it against the wall."

Brickner said one of the knives was a machete and the other was a serrated knife. The youth accused in the attack was being held by school administrators when police officers arrived. He remained in custody Wednesday evening.

School district Superintendent Michael Benway said the school does not have metal detectors but that school staffers and volunteers monitor the two doors through which the school's 2,000 students enter the building.

Authorities did not release information about the size of the knives and how the student concealed them.

"We're not sure exactly how he got them into school," Brickner said.

Brickner would not comment on whether the student, who started in the Valparaiso school system this year, was targeting any specific classmates.

"In talking with the school administration, this student was a very good student, an A/B student," Brickner said. "I think it's accurate to say that when the teachers learned who this student was, they were very surprised."

He said investigators were working with the Porter County prosecutor's office to decide what charges the attacker would face.

The uninjured students were allowed to leave school about 3 1/2 hours after the attack, as the school had a scheduled half-day of classes. Until then, students said they were kept locked in their classrooms.

"The teachers wouldn't tell us what was going on," said senior Danielle Boer. "We were scared."

Four school administrators chased the student for a few minutes after he fled the classroom before Assistant Principal George Gordon tackled the student in a hallway, school district Superintendent Michael Benway said.

He said their actions prevented the situation at the school of some 2,000 students from becoming more serious.

"To personally confront and subdue a person with two lethal weapons in his hands, I think that's nothing short of heroic," Benway said.

Sam Rasmussen, the school's athletic director and among those helping subdue the suspected attacker, said the boy was dazed, but did not look scared.

"He wasn't yelling, he wasn't screaming," Rasmussen said. "He was in another place."

Authorities and students said the teen who committed the attack was a good but quiet student who enrolled in the school about 20 miles southeast of Gary this fall after moving from the Chicago area.

Benway said the district planned to use federal grant money to hire a school security consultant to consider emergency policies, the number and position of video cameras and metal detectors at the school.

No motive for the attack has been given by investigators.


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