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Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 7:57 p.m.
By Diana Hefley, Herald Writer
Teen allegedly told detectives she chose her victims at random
EVERETT — Prosecutors have until Wednesday to file charges against a teenage girl accused of attacking two other girls with a knife inside a restroom at Snohomish High School.
The girl, 15, allegedly told detectives that she’d been planning on stabbing someone since Saturday and armed herself with two kitchen knives before leaving for school on Monday.
The high school sophomore on Tuesday was ordered held on $1 million bail for investigation of attempted first-degree murder and first- and second-degree assault in connection with the knife attack.
Police allege that the suspect stabbed a girl as many as 25 times just before the start of school. She also is accused of stabbing another girl who tried to help her injured friend, according to the police report filed Tuesday. Both victims are freshmen.
Detectives believe the suspect picked them at random. She allegedly told police that the girls “were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” court records said.
The first victim was critically injured. The attacker’s knife pierced a lung and the girl’s heart. She underwent six hours of surgery on Monday.
The girl’s condition was upgraded Tuesday but was still serious, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The second victim suffered a deep gash to her forearm while trying to stop the attack. Snohomish Police Chief John Turner described the injury as a defensive wound.
That girl was treated and released from the hospital Monday.
The suspect made a brief appearance Tuesday morning in the juvenile division of Snohomish County Superior Court.
Judge Michael Downes said the high bail was warranted because the teen poses an “extreme risk to the community.”
The Herald is not naming the girl because she is, at this time, being treated as a juvenile by the legal system.
Because of the serious nature of the allegations, there will be a mandatory hearing to determine whether the case should be moved to adult court.
Probation counselor Ken Steenis told the judge that before the attack, the girl had been taking medication and seeing a mental health professional. Court documents say the girl is being treated for depression.
The girl told a detective that she would commit suicide if she had a gun but “could not with a knife because it would hurt too bad,” documents said.
The suspect’s mental health history likely will be scrutinized as the case moves through the courts.
Mental health advocates, however, were quick to point out that violence is rare among those living with a mental illness.
“For the most part, folks living with mental illness are more of a danger to themselves than to others,” said Jim Bloss, the president of the Snohomish County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “These things make the paper because they are rare.”
The girl’s family attended Tuesday’s court hearing. Her parents are “obviously very concerned,” Steenis said. The girl looked at her family but said nothing before the start of the hearing.
The suspect allegedly told investigators that she took two knives from her father’s house and put them in her backpack, planning to stab someone at school. She allegedly waited in a stall in the girls restroom in the auxiliary gym building, unpacked a knife and randomly picked a victim.
The girl allegedly said that she “made eye contact through the mirror” with the victim, who was brushing her teeth before class. She is accused of repeatedly stabbing the girl. Police said the suspect told them she stabbed the girl not “more than 10 times.”
The victim’s friend exited the bathroom, screaming for help. She went back into the bathroom and made attempts to help her friend. The suspect allegedly told detectives that’s when she lunged at the second girl, cutting her forearm.
The first girl said something like “please” during the attack, according to the suspect.
The attacker eventually dropped the knife. She was confronted by another student, a boy, who had heard the screams. The boy told investigators that he saw the suspect standing over the victim.
Police reported that the girl appeared indifferent when she was told that one of the girls was in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.
The suspect allegedly told a detective “she didn’t care one way or the other” if the stabbing victim survived, according to court papers.
Meanwhile, parents and students in Snohomish continued to grapple with fear, anger and disbelief.
“The best thing to do at this point is to talk openly about violence in the community,” said Martin Speckmaier, a school safety expert and former Edmonds police detective.
Students may need reassurance that they’re safe at school and may need help sorting out their reactions to the event.
Extra counselors will be on hand at the high school for the rest of the week, Snohomish School District spokeswoman Kristin Foley said. The district sent counselors to classes where the suspect and the two victims had been enrolled. The counselors talked to students in small groups about what happened.
“Our thoughts and support are with the victims, with our students and our staff at this difficult time,” Foley said. “There has been a lot of community support that has come in, and we appreciate all those thoughts and support we have received, as a district and as a school.”
Someone tied pink ribbons around all the doorknobs at the school, Foley said.
“Schools are just a microcosm of the greater community. Schools are very safe places to be, but that doesn’t mean that all acts of violence can be predicted or prevented,” Speckmaier said.
Herald reporter Rikki King contributed to this report.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the families
The Snohomish High School Parent Club has established the Snohomish High School Student Benefit Fund to benefit the victims of Monday’s stabbing and their families. Donations are accepted at any Columbia Bank branch.