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Police search for knife used in W.Va. school-bus stabbing

December 15, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

BUNKER HILL, W.Va. - Police still have not found the knife used in a school bus stabbing Tuesday afternoon in Bunker Hill, and believe it might have been handed to someone else before police arrived, Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith said Wednesday.

The stabbing happened around 2:50 p.m. on Frontier Drive, off Runneymede Road, at a bus stop. It involved two 16-year-old boys, both of whom are students at Musselman High School, according to police.

The injured boy, who was stabbed once in his abdomen, first was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., then flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia. Because police declined to release his name, the boy's condition could not be obtained. His family also could not be reached.

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Smith said he spoke to the boy while he was at City Hospital and that he did not appear to be seriously injured.

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said the boy began having internal bleeding, which prompted him to be moved to the hospital in Virginia, but that he was in stable condition Wednesday.

"I was notified early this morning that the bleeding was under control and surgery was not needed," Arvon said, adding that the boy is expected to fully recover after remaining at the hospital for a few days for observation.

Police went to Musselman High School and Musselman Middle School on Wednesday to begin interviewing everyone who was on the bus when the stabbing happened.

"An ongoing disagreement" was present between the two boys, Smith said.

Some students on the bus said that taunting and teasing preceded the confrontation between the two, while the boy charged in the stabbing claimed he was being teased, Smith said.

Smith said the boy confessed to the stabbing.

"He did admit to the offense," he said.

The boy, charged with malicious wounding, was taken into police custody after the stabbing and had a court hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Hearings involving juveniles are closed to the public, but Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said afterward that the boy continued to be held in the juvenile detention center. He can have either a trial or an adjudication hearing to settle the case, she said.

Witnesses said the blade of the knife was about 2 to 3 inches long. The knife might have been tossed away from the stabbing site, but deputies searching with a metal detector were unable to find it, Smith said.

"We think it was passed to some other individual on the bus," Smith said, adding that that person might not realize keeping the knife carries consequences.

"They are aiding and abetting a crime (by) concealing evidence or destroying evidence," he said.

Justin Schooley, acting spokesperson for Berkeley County Schools, said guidance counselors met with the middle school and high school students who were on the bus. Members of the county's crisis team were not asked to respond to the schools, he said.

Arvon said this is the first time a student has been stabbed while in a Berkeley County school or on a bus. The county has nearly 16,000 students, with more than 14,000 being bused to schools per day.

"Something of this magnitude, it makes you as a superintendent rethink and look at every procedure and policy that you have in place, hoping you can prevent a situation like this from ever happening again," Arvon said.

While the school system tries to make its students into good citizens, it takes a partnership with the students and students' families as well.

"When you have a situation when a student stabs another student, sometimes all the rules and regulations in the world can't prevent that," Arvon said, adding that the school system's priorities are to ensure children are safe and provide them with a quality education.

"We're doing a thorough investigation and as we see changes that need to be made, we'll make them," he said.

The county has a no-tolerance policy on dangerous weapons being brought to schools, which will be applied to the case, Arvon said.

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