TISD Releases New Information Concerning Fatal Stabbing
By KENNETH DEAN
Those were the words Tyler Independent School District Superintendent Randy Reid used to describe the Wednesday fatal stabbing of a John Tyler High School teacher, allegedly at the hands of one of his students.
"All reports indicate that the attack was entirely unprovoked while the students were completing their morning work," he said. "There were no warning signs as to the action the student was about to take. There was no explanation to what happened yesterday in that classroom."
Reid said the school, TISD and the community are reeling from the death of 50-year-old Todd Henry, who died of stab wounds to the chest and neck at a local hospital after being attacked in his classroom.
Reid said the classroom is next to an office dedicated for campus police and 50 feet from the principal's office. He added that at the time of the attack six TISD police were on campus and five officers were within feet of the classroom.
Reid said there has been an outpouring of support from teachers, school districts and communities across the state.
The assault took place just before 9 a.m. Wednesday in a classroom where three students, including the suspect, Henry and another adult teacher were going through regular class.
Reid said Wednesday that the suspect, who has been described as having behavioral problems, assaulted the teacher with an edged weapon. He added that the other male teacher in the room subdued the suspect.
"His actions were brave," he said of the aide's actions.
Reid said the aide acted quickly to ensure no one else was in peril.
"It should be noted the student was subdued and handcuffed within 30 seconds of the attack," he said.
As the incident unfolded, hundreds of parents arrived at outside the school.
Police secured the scene, and the campus was placed on lockdown as detectives collected evidence for the homicide investigation under the direction of Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham.
Reid said Thursday the district was looking at additional security measures to be enacted, but reiterated the incident was isolated and not connected with other incidents.
The superintendent said before the stabbing, there was a large fight in the cafeteria, but that the crowd had been dispersed.
Reid said attendance Thursday among students was down 9 percent from the day before, and seven teachers were unexpectedly absent.
Reid did not talk about specifics of the incident, citing an ongoing investigation, but other sources said the 16-year-old student had taken the large kitchen knife used in the attack to campus himself.
The superintendent said school officials notified parents Wednes-day as soon as possible about the situation.
He said the first priority was to make sure all students were safe, and then he and others made sure the information they were about to disperse was factual.
Reid said administrators wonder if there was something else that could have been done to change the outcome.
He added that at the time of the stabbing, several John Tyler High School administrators were meeting about security and what more could be done to make the facility safer.
When asked about the classroom where the incident took place, Reid said, "That classroom has been locked off, and we don't intend to use it in the foreseeable future ... We just feel it would not be appropriate for us to go back utilizing that facility for awhile. The door is locked. If you walked by there, you wouldn't know what door it was."
Staff reporter Casey Knaupp contributed to this report.
Updated Friday, Sept. 25, 2009 at 4:13 p.m. CDT