What to Know
- Abel Cedeno, 18, was charged with murder, manslaughter and assault in the stabbing that left a classmate dead and another one wounded.
- Matthew McCree, 15, was killed in the stabbing at Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation; Ariane Laboy, 16, was wounded.
- McCree's mother says despite reports, her son was not a bully and that he was "loved by so many people"
The mother of the 15-year-old boy stabbed to death by a classmate at a Bronx high school Wednesday insists he wasn't a bully and that he was loved by "so many people."
"My son don't even come close to being a bully. So let's get that clear," Louna Dennis told reporters at a news conference with attorney Sanford Rubenstein Friday, alternately defiant and devastated as she spoke of son Matthew McCree.
McCree died after being stabbed in third-period history class by 18-year-old Abel Cedeno at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife. A second student allegedly stabbed by Cedeno, 16-year-old Ariane Laboy, was seriously wounded.
Dennis said her son "would rather beat a bully down before he would become a bully."
"My son was wonderful," Dennis said. "The morning before my son died, he made my last breakfast for me. He forced me to [eat] because I was running late for work. And I had to force myself to eat it because I said, 'he took the time out to make breakfast for me."
Dennis started crying, continuing, "Now my son is never coming back."
She said her son's death has turned their family's world upside down.
Asked about media reports that her son had been throwing pencils at the back of his alleged killer's head until he was stabbed., Dennis replied, "there are so many stories."
"My son is dead. My son is dead," she added.
The family is preparing funeral arrangements for McCree, who loved going to school and wanted to attend Fordham University and play basketball, according to his mother.
Rubenstein said the family is considering filing civil suit to investigate why there were no metal detectors at a school where he says the vast majority of teachers have stated they felt unsafe; whether guidance counselors took appropriate action when Cedeno previously complained he was being bullied by other students; and why two teachers in the classroom "did absolutely nothing" as the stabbings happened, according to Rubenstein.
The Department of Education says its investigation is ongoing but so far it doesn't appear there was any negligence on the part of the teachers in the classroom.
Department spokeswoman Toya Holness added in the statement, "Additional school safety agents and guidance counselors have been assigned to the school to support the community, and students are being scanned during entry. The DOE and NYPD review data for each school and ensure they have the resources to keep students safe."
Cedeno told police he bought the knife online for protection and had been harassed since the school year started. Cedeno said that McCree and Laboy hadn't bothered him before until that morning, when they reportedly started tossing broken bits of pencils and paper at his head, authorities said.
But another student in the class, Frankie Santiago, told News 4 Thursday that McCree had only been trying to throw a crumpled piece of paper into the trash can when it hit Cedeno, angering him.
Cedeno snapped, students said. He excused himself to go to the bathroom, and when he came back, he pulled out a switchblade and started fighting and slashing at them, police said.
Santiago said of McCree: "My friend got up, went to him -- Abel had taken out his switchblade -- and I tried to stop my friend from going to him, and he stabbed him. No hesitation."
He added, "You can't accuse someone of bullying when there is no evidence to support it."
McCree was stabbed just once, but it was a deep wound, said Santiago.
While school safety agents raced to the room and the teachers and students tried to stop the bleeding, a counselor confronted Cedeno in the hallway and he handed over the blade, police said.
Cedeno was charged Thursday with murder and weapon possession. The Legal Aid Society, which was representing him, said its lawyers were talking with Cedeno and his family, "reviewing the facts and circumstances of this case including the long history of bullying and intimidation Abel has endured."
Cedeno appeared before a judge for the first time Thursday. His family dodged news cameras in court, but a close family friend, Savannah Hornback, spoke on their behalf.
"He was constantly tortured at school, and I guess he felt no other way out than to resort to the means that he did," said Hornback.
"We send our condolences," she added. "The family is very sorry that it had to come to this."
Hornback said Cedeno has been bullied at at least three separate schools.
"He came home crying, I know that he has also sought professional help outside of school in regards to the matter," said Hornback. "The school was made aware, but there was no reaction from the school, so I guess he took matters into his own hands, unfortunately."
Other students at the school described Cedeno as "different from the other guys" but that he was "nice" and "sensitive" and "has a good heart."
On his Instagram page, Cedeno posted pictures and videos of himself vamping with flowers in his hair, strutting down a street and singing along with female rappers.
"I thought I was cute," he posted in the caption of one video.
His next court appearance is scheduled for early October.
It was the first homicide inside a New York City school since 1993, when a 15-year-old student stabbed a classmate to death at a junior high school in Manhattan.