15-year-old fatally stabbed; attacker wanted his backpack, police say

15-year-old stabbed to death for a backpack outside Long Beach middle school, authorities say

A 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death Thursday afternoon outside a Long Beach middle school during a shoving match over his backpack, police say.

Keshawn Brooks was walking home about 3:30 p.m. near Stephens Middle School when someone tried to grab his backpack, and then stabbed him, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said during a news conference late Thursday.

Several good Samaritans ran to help Brooks, a student at Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School, and were at his side until emergency crews arrived and rushed him to a hospital, where he later died.

"It's a dark night for us in the city," said Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, flanked by Brooks' family. "Incidents like this can shatter our sense of community and safety, and we must work together to rebuild."

After interviewing witnesses, police arrested Giovanny Montelongo, 18, in the 1700 block of West Columbia Avenue on suspicion of murder.

During the news conference, Luna asked community members who may have witnessed the stabbing to come forward. 

Investigators are still trying to determine what led up to the killing.

"We want a complete picture of what happened," Luna said.

Meanwhile, Brooks' father, Keeyon Layton, was grieving over the loss.

"My son was not a gang member," he said. "He did not deserve this."

At Stephens Middle School, located in West Long Beach, parents said they felt devastated by what had happened.

Dropping her daughter off at the school, Maggie Torres, 40, called it a tragic loss.

"It shouldn't have happened," Torres said. "I feel sorry for his parents and their loss."

Torres said the neighborhood is peaceful and family-oriented. A long row of single-story homes faces the middle school and there's an empty lot at the corner of Santa Fe Avenue and Columbia Avenue where parents and neighbors say the stabbing took place.

Standing by the lot, near a light pole with police tape tied to it, Beatriz Ramos said she sympathized with the parents of both the victim and the suspect.

"So much loss," she said. "It's very sad."

Neighbors in the area said workers at a small barbershop adjacent to the lot tried to help the young teen. Inside the shop early Friday, barbers stood quietly, trimming hair.

"We didn't really do much," one of the barbers said. "He still died."

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


2:45 p.m., March 13: This post has been updated with comments from parents at Stephens Middle School.

This post was originally published at 11:38 p.m. March 12.