2 students stabbed at Countryside High School, Clearwater police say

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Two students at Countryside High School were hospitalized after being stabbed at the school on Thursday, police said.

During a news conference around 3 p.m. Thursday, Clearwater Police Chief Eric Gandy said school resource officers reported the stabbings at 11:24 a.m., and, less than two minutes later, reported that they had taken the suspect into custody at gunpoint.

The students who were stabbed — a ninth grade boy and an 11th grade boy — were treated at the scene before being taken to area hospitals, he said.

The ninth grader was taken to All Children’s Hospital, where he was treated and released, according to a news release sent around 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The 11th grader was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he is in stable condition.

Gandy said the student accused of stabbing the two boys with a knife was a ninth grade boy at the school.

“He has no discipline history at the school, and his motive and relationship to the victims is unknown at this point,” the police chief said.

Gandy did not identify any of the students involved, saying they were all juveniles.

Detectives are interviewing witnesses and the suspect, he said, and investigators expect to be at the school for several hours.

“This happened in the main concourse of the school, which runs east and west, and it occurred after the first lunch, so there were quite a few kids in that area when it happened,” Gandy said.

Portions of the high school are considered part of the crime scene, and students were held in their classrooms after the incident to preserve those scenes, police said.

After the lockdown was lifted, students were dismissed early and reunited with their parents.

“School districts and law enforcement practice these drills all the time, and today, this school did the drill in an implementation exactly how we wanted it to do,” Pinellas Superintendent Kevin Hendrick said at the news conference.

Hendrick thanked Clearwater police and the school resource officers for how they handled the situation. He then praised the school staff.

“Principal Henderson did a fantastic job, his staff, his teachers all did tremendous in keeping our students safe and following all of the protocols in terms of reunification and dismissal,” Hendrick said.

When asked why there aren’t metal detectors at the school, he said they regularly review their safety plan with the authorities, including an after-action report after every incident.

“Safety of our students is obviously the top priority,” Hendrick said. “The mechanisms we have in place are the ones that have been recommended by law enforcement at this time.”

Gandy said the investigation is ongoing as they work to determine the suspect’s motive and how he got the knife, among other things.

Thursday night, police announced the 14-year-old boy would face two counts of attempted first-degree murder. In addition to criminal charges, the student accused in the stabbings faces expulsion, Hendrick said.

“Any student who brings a weapon to campus is expelled, and so the chief shared that — that there was a weapon, so the answer to that would be yes, following due process and those pieces,” he said.

Classes at the high school will resume Friday, Hendrick said. Mental health services will be available for students and staff.

There will be an additional law enforcement presence at the high school Friday to help reassure students and parents that it is safe to return, according to Gandy.

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