CONTINUED homophobic and racist slurs caused a student to snap and stab two classmates in the chest halfway into a midmorning history class on Wednesday, leaving one dead and the other fighting for his life.
Abel Cedeno, 18, has been charged with murder after he allegedly attacked Matthew McCree, 15, and Ariane LaBoy, 16, with a switchblade in front about 20 horrified classmates in a New York City school. Matthew was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital later that morning and Ariane was left in a critical but stable condition.
The violence, which erupted about 10.45am at Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in The Bronx, was reportedly sparked by a month of bullying.
"We believe that this argument has been going on for, maybe, two weeks into the school year and it escalated today after some back and forth within the classroom," New York Police Department detectives chief Robert Boyce told reporters.
Mr Cedeno was seated in the third-period class when he was hit in the head by a flying pen.
He demanded to know who threw the pen and Matthew admitted to it, claiming it was an accident, according to witnesses.
It's then that Mr Cedeno "went crazy", classmate Jomarlyn Colon told the New York Post. He pulled the 8cm blade out of his front pocket and plunged it into Matthew's chest.
Matthew's friend Ariane then stepped in, but he too was allegedly stabbed in the chest by Mr Cedeno.
The teacher, Mr Kennedy, and the other students then worked desperately to stop the blood gushing from Matthew's chest.
"They were holding towels on Matthew - Mr Kennedy and kids. All the kids were crying," Jomarlyn, 16, told the Post.
Mr Cedeno then walked out of the classroom, where he was confronted by a counsellor who recovered the knife.
"He then walked into the assistant principal's office and sat there and the police were called," Mr Boyce said.
Classmates alleged both victims regularly picked on Mr Cedeno, who was described by as a "flamboyant" fan of Nicki Minaj and Kylie Jenner who dressed differently to other students.
Friend Savannah Hornbeck told reporters the violence was sparked by an "ongoing bullying issue around his perceived sexual orientation".
"He was constantly being called 'faggot' and 'spic' … he felt no way out other than the way that he went," she said.
Another friend, who wished to be known only as Tanaisha B, told the Post the students were "harassing him and that when he did what he did".
"He's not aggressive in any sort of way, so it's really shocking to hear that he was pushed to the point where he thought he needed to do something," she said.
Tanaisha added that Matthew was a "jokester" but he "wasn't a bad kid".
School official Kevin Sampson, who performed CPR on Matthew after the stabbing, also confirmed the motive behind the attack.
"It was about what it's always about - bullying," he told The New York Times.
Mr Cedeno bought the knife online for protection two weeks before the attack and admitted to stabbing the two teenagers with it, assistant district attorney Nancy Borko said in court on Thursday.
He has been refused bail and has been placed on suicide watch.
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