The double stabbing yesterday at Abbotsford Senior Secondary is believed to be a “random act of violence,” said school district superintendent Kevin Godden during a press conference on Wednesday morning.
Godden said the suspect, whom police have said is a “young man,” was not a current student at the school nor is it believed that he attended the school in the past.
“At this point, evidence suggests that this attacker was in no way affiliated with the district or any student at the school. We believe this was a random act of violence,” he said.
He said it is not yet known how long the man, who is still in police custody, was in the school before attacking the two female students.
The assault took place just after 2 p.m. and resulted in the two girls being airlifted to hospital. One died of her injuries not long afterward.
Godden and Cindy Schafer, vice board of the Abbotsford board of education, commended school staff for quickly restraining the suspect.
“Heroic efforts were made and … additional lives were likely saved,” Schafer said.
Godden said staff first yelled at the suspect and then converged on him. The knife fell from the man’s hand, and staff got him to sit down and kept him restrained, while others provided first aid to the victims.
They immediately placed the school on lockdown and called police, Godden said.
The man was placed into police custody within minutes.
Godden said schools practise lockdown drills throughout the year.
“You can practise this all you want. When the real thing happens, it’s the ultimate test, and I am so proud of our staff and the police for the manner in which they responded to something we practise on an ongoing basis,” he said.
He said those critical incident protocols will be reviewed in the near future to see if any changes need to be made.
Godden and Schafer said they were saddened by the tragedy and extended their “sincere condolences” to the families of the two victims. Godden said they would not be revealing any details about the girls.
“Out of a level of respect … I don’t want to release any information about these children at the moment,” he said.
Abbotsford Senior Secondary is closed today, and Godden said the district will release more information later today on whether it will re-open tomorrow. He said updates will be posted on the school district website (sd34.bc.ca).
Meanwhile, an emotional Premier Christy Clark said she was shaken and shocked by the double stabbing.
She said, as a mother of a 15-year-old, the horrific event hit particularly close to home.
Clark offered “heartfelt condolences” to the parents of the victims, adding that losing a child is “the most painful thing that could happen.”
Clark praised the staff members who subdued the suspect, saying the second stabbing victim would likely have died were it not for their intervention.
“God bless them,” she said.
The identity and job titles of the staff members were not shared but Clark said they were specifically trained in how to react to such a situation.
B.C. schools are largely safe, Clark said, and the province needs to fully understand what happened yesterday before it can decide on how security protocols may be changed in the future.
– with files from Kelvin Gawley