Stabbing victim undergoes surgery; had ongoing feud with attacker

September 8, 2010
photo - Palmer Lake Police officers and an El Paso County Sheriff's Deputy talked with teenagers who witnessed the stabbing of a 12-year-old middle school student Tuesday. Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE
Palmer Lake Police officers and an El Paso County Sheriff's Deputy talked with teenagers who witnessed the stabbing of a 12-year-old middle school student Tuesday. Photo by MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE 

The 12-year-old Palmer Lake boy who was stabbed in the neck Tuesday afternoon at a school bus stop underwent surgery for a ruptured esophagus.

The boy was listed in serious condition Wednesday at Children’s Hospital in Denver, where he will be recuperating for at least a week, according to Palmer Lake Police Chief Kieth Moreland.

He was hospitalized after being stabbed by a classmate in the alley next to Palmer Lake Elementary School where the bus dropped both of them off, Moreland said. Police recovered a knife near a fence they believe the attacker jumped when he fled.

The boy suspected of attacking him also is 12 years old, and both are seventh-graders at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Neither of the boys’ names has been released.

The suspect was being held at Spring Creek juvenile detention center on suspicion of attempted murder, Moreland said.

Moreland said the two students appeared to have had little contact with each other at school, but, nevertheless, had been embroiled in an ongoing feud.

The two did not have any classes together, Moreland said, but rode the same bus to and from school.

The two had been in a “couple minor confrontations,” Moreland said. He said that for about two weeks, the boy had told other students he intended to stab the victim. No one, however, believed him and school officials would not comment on whether any students reported the threats.

“There’s been a resentment building up between both parties,” Moreland said. “I don’t know what the origin is, but it exploded, obviously.”

Robin Adair, spokeswoman for Lewis-Palmer School District 38, said school officials received no reports of a child bringing a knife to school Tuesday.

Rhonda Williams, a professor in the counseling and human services program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, said it wouldn’t be surprising if no one alerted school officials.

Williams said there is often a “code of silence” among kids because they fear being known as a “narc.” Children can be reluctant to talk to adults, though, for several reasons, ranging from a fear of bullying from peers who find out they “told” to simple immaturity, she said.

“Kids try real hard to solve their own problems thinking they’ve got the skills to do that and they really don’t,” Williams said.

The school promotes a program called Safe2Tell, which lets children know it’s OK to report suspicious activity or threats to teachers or security officers anonymously.

The school last held a Safe2Tell assembly early this year, shortly after children returned from winter break, and teachers were to review how to report threats when the school year began last month.

There are also Safe2Tell posters hanging in the school.

The district has not decided whether the boy accused of stabbing his classmate will be suspended or expelled, Adair said. Discipline will depend on the police investigation, she said.

District polity states that any student who brings to school a fixed-blade knife longer than 3 inches, or a spring-loaded or pocketknife longer than 3 1/2 inches can be expelled. Students also face expulsion for using an object with the intent to kill or seriously harm another student.

Williams said parents should emphasize to their children that if they think something bad can happen, they should tell somebody.

“Keeping it secret isn’t an option because that puts somebody’s life in danger,” Williams said.  “These kids in this school — their lives will be changed forever because of this.”


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