A teen student was stabbed to death and three others were injured in a possible gang-related confrontation Wednesday at Spring High School in the Houston suburb of Spring, Texas, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said.
Three students described as "persons of interest" were taken into custody after the fight in a hallway leading to the school cafeteria, he said. At least two were taken away in handcuffs, KTRK-TV reports.
The sheriff's office later said it was questioning a 17-year-old boy as the only suspect, the Houston Chroniclereported.
Spring High School, which serves 3,000 students, was locked down, and classes were canceled the rest of the week.
Garcia said the stabbing occurred around 7:10 a.m. and "may have been gang-related." He said the incident started with a physical confrontation involving a "cutting instrument." Investigators have not found the weapons involved.
Authorities have not named the dead student but several news reports identified him as Joshua Broussard, a 17-year-old sophomore.
KPRC-TV spoke with a man who said he was the father of the slain teen. "He was just trying to come to school today," he said of his son.
The victim's aunt, who identified herself as Alisa Broussard, said the killing "was random."
The sheriff said two students were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and the third was undergoing surgery.
KTRK-TV said one of the injured teens was stabbed in the abdomen and had been listed in critical condition at Memorial Hermann Hospital, but later his condition was upgraded to good. The TV station had previously quoted a family member as saying the boy was fighting for his life.
At midmorning, the school sent out an e-mail and recorded message to parents:
"This is an important message from Spring High School. Based on a preliminary report, a fight occurred this morning in the cafeteria. There has been one fatality and three students have been transported to hospitals with injuries. All other students are safe in their classrooms and will remain there while the investigation continues. Students will be released as soon as we have been given permission from the investigating authorities. We will call you again as soon as we have more details."
"When street violence pours into the schools, it compromises the well-being of all our students," said Ralph Draper, Spring ISD superintendent, at a news conference outside the school.
"It is our aim to re-establish a safe and secure place" for students on campus. He said police arrived on campus within 60 seconds of being summoned.
Garcia said the campus has no metal detectors.
Pastor E.A. Deckard of Green House International Church told the Houston Chronicle that he was serving as spokesman for the family of one of the victims. Deckard said the incident was part of an ongoing battle involving young men of different races.
"We as a community need to come together to show kids the value of real life," Deckard said, adding that "this was not gang violence, but simply a misunderstanding between two people."
Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY