Santa Rosa, CA – A 16-year-old boy was fatally stabbed and a second teen was injured after they got into a fight with a third student inside a high school classroom on Wednesday morning.)
The incident occurred at Montgomery High School on Hahman Drive at approximately 11 a.m. on March 1, KGO reported.
Investigators said two 16-year-old juniors entered one of the classrooms and got into a physical altercation with a 15-year-old freshman, according to ABC News.
Twenty-seven students were inside the classroom at the time, as well as three teacher’s aides and one teacher, Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) Chief John Cregan said.
Chief Cregan said the teacher and the three aides tried to intervene in the brawl, but the situation took a dire turn when the freshman boy pulled out a knife with a four-to-five-inch blade and stabbed both of the older teens, ABC News reported.
The wounded juniors fled the classroom and went to get help from the school nurse.
Police said one of the boys was stabbed three times in his upper body, ABC News reported.
The other teen suffered a stab wound to his hand.
Meanwhile, the 15-year-old freshman who allegedly stabbed them fled the school on foot, ABC News reported.
SRPD officers arrived at the school within four minutes of receiving a 911 call about the incident, KGO reported.
The two injured teens were rushed to a local hospital and were both conscious and alert when they left the school, police said.
But one of the boys succumbed to his wounds at the hospital, KGO reported.
His family later identified him as 16-year-old Jayden Pienta.
Pienta’s aunt, Carole Snell, told KGO her nephew was “stabbed in the heart three times.”
The second teen who was stabbed in the hand is expected to recover, police said.
His identity has not been released.
SRPD officers converged on the school and launched a search for the 15-year-old suspect with the assistance of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), KGO reported.
“We had 36 Santa Rosa officers respond to this incident and started combing the area,” Chief Cregan said, according to CBS News. “We had mutual aid assistance from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department and the Sonoma County’s helicopter aided in our search.”
Witnesses aided in the search by providing police with tips that suspect was hiding in a creek bed behind St. Eugene’s Cathedral School, ABC News reported.
“Our officers scoured that area and were able to locate a 15-year-old juvenile who was hiding in the creek bed there, who was laying down on his stomach, trying to conceal himself,” Chief Cregan told reporters.
“Officers slowed down, they used restraint, they didn’t use any force and they were safely able to take this young man into custody,” he added.
Police said the teen did not have any weapons on him when he was apprehended, ABC News reported.
His identity was not immediately released.
The suspect was booked into the Sonoma County Juvenile Justice Center on felony charges of homicide, attempted homicide, and possession of a weapon on a school campus, as well as a misdemeanor battery charge, KGO reported.
Investigators are still searching for the alleged murder weapon, which has been described as a black-handled folding knife with a four-to-five-inch blade.
Chief Cregan said the stabbing appears to be the culmination of a series of altercations between the suspect and the two older boys, ABC News reported.
He said it is too early to speculate on the potential motive.
“It’s very early in the investigation, but it appears there had been some previous altercations between these students,” Chief Cregan said, according to ABC News. “That’ll be one of the things that our investigators are looking into.”
Police have asked for any students with video footage of the stabbing or any other information regarding the incident to contact the SRPD immediately.
Classes at Montgomery High School were canceled Thursday and Friday, according to KGO.
Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Anna Trunnell said the district does not have any weapons-detection equipment at any of its schools, but noted they do “talk regularly” with students about “safety and caring for each other on campus,” ABC News reported.
Trunnell said the fatal stabbing is “heartbreaking.”
“We are going to be assessing how we approach supporting our students and making sure that they know that this is a safe place, and we will be examining how exactly we are going to do that,” she added.
The Santa Rosa City Schools Board of Education ended its school resource officer program in all of its schools in 2020, KGO reported.
“As chief, it’s something that I’ve advocated for us to return to, but we can’t do that without the support of your Santa Rosa school board,” Chief Cregan told ABC News.