Police investigate how student got from one Virginia school to another before stabbing – The Washington Post | Team Cansler

Fairfax County authorities are trying to figure out exactly how a student at West Potomac High School broke into nearby Mount Vernon High School earlier this month and allegedly stabbed another student, authorities said.

The incident happened on November 2 in a bathroom at Mount Vernon High School. Fairfax County Police said a 15-year-old was stabbed to death after an altercation with another student he had previously encountered. The injured student was taken to a nearby hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Two teenage suspects fled the school but were quickly identified and taken into custody by officers, authorities said at the time.

At a public safety meeting at Walt Whitman Middle School the following week, Fairfax County Police said the student who believed to have carried out the stabbing attended West Potomac High School. The student was charged with trespassing and assisting in wounding, police said. His name was not published.

Fairfax police said On Monday, detectives believe another student who was not involved in the incident allowed the suspect into the building.

Fairfax County Police Captain Fred Chambers said at the public safety meeting that it’s possible the student entered Mount Vernon High School because students from both schools sometimes go back and forth for different classes, but the matter will still be investigated.

“Many schools in the district have different courses. So whether they have an academy or an auto mechanic class, they have students going back and forth from each school and that could be one of the reasons,” Chambers said. “I’m not sure about that part, but that part is still under investigation.”

A Fairfax County school girl said that, as with other incidents, the district safety and security agency is “conducting additional investigations for learning and improvement purposes.”

Chambers said the parties knew each other and had met before.

“I don’t want to use the word ‘relationship,’ but they’ve met each other before, so this wasn’t a random act where someone just showed up and did something to a student,” Chambers said.

Some parents had expressed frustration at the first reports of the stabbing.

Mike Wendy said after noticing emergency vehicles at the school, he tried to text his daughter, but she didn’t immediately reply. He said he then checked his email and saw an initial message from JoVon F. Rogers, acting principal of Mount Vernon High, describing an incident that had taken place in a restroom.

“My daughter hadn’t answered yet. It was probably okay, but I was a little nervous,” Wendy said. He said his daughter eventually responded to let him know everything was fine.

Wendy said he later read a news report in which police described that the school had an on-site protective order in place, but that his daughter had not heard any such order. “There was certainly an information deficit,” Wendy said.

Authorities said the students weren’t actually asked to protect themselves on site, but the building was placed on another heightened alert status.

Julie Moult, a spokeswoman for Fairfax County Public Schools, said officials instituted a “secure building” mode that “was only a few minutes before police, security and school administrators determined the threat was no longer inside the building.”

A Fairfax County Police spokesman said an officer initially reported that there was a “shelter present” because that and “secure building” are sometimes used interchangeably.

But the spokesman acknowledged that other wording might have been clearer.

Fairfax County public schools use a “secure building” procedure to prevent unauthorized entry when a potential threat is detected outside the building, according to information from county posts online. A “shelter-in-place” procedure is used to temporarily isolate people from a hazardous outside atmosphere.

Fairfax County Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at the public safety meeting that police are trying to release facts about public safety incidents at schools as soon as possible.

“The faster we can get this out the better, but we want to get accurate information out there,” Davis said. “When we get inaccurate information out there and have to trace it, it undermines our trust in the community.”

Hannah Natanson contributed to this report.

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