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Stabbing Blamed on Fight Over Girlfriend

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A Burbank High School student who was stabbed to death last week had insulted the girlfriend of a fellow student who was arrested on suspicion of the killing, students said Monday.

Authorities said the 16-year-old suspect would be arraigned Wednesday in Pasadena Juvenile Court on a charge of murder in the stabbing death of Adam Smith, 17.

Smith and the suspect had been arguing after a summer school class Friday at Burbank High when the younger boy pulled out a knife and stabbed him, according to witnesses.

Friends said Monday that the alleged assailant was angered by insults to his girlfriend, who had dated Smith last year. Smith had recently disparaged the girl, said summer school student John Santiago, 17.

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The taunts apparently continued in the halls Friday, and the younger boy grew increasingly angry, threatening retaliation, other students said.

“Nobody really thought he was going to do it,” one said.

Police said they were looking into accounts that the attack resulted from a quarrel over the girl. Investigators have interrogated the suspect, who was being held at Sylmar Juvenile Hall. A youth who answered the door at the suspect’s home declined to comment.

While students tried to return to their normal summer routine, Smith’s parents were only beginning to mourn.

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“I’m in a bit of a dream world,” Michael Smith said. “We loved our son very much.”

The elder Smith said neither he nor his wife, Mary, knew of any looming trouble when Adam left for school Friday.

“He didn’t say anything to us. I’ve been told it was something over a girl, but that’s all I’ve heard,” Smith said. “I’d like to know what happened like everybody else. I’m sure I will at some point. Right now it’s not the most important thing for us.”

Friends of Smith, who described him as an outspoken but friendly youth whose dyed hair made him stand out in a crowd, were also bewildered. Dozens of students requested sessions with crisis counselors at the school Monday, as carnations and sympathy cards piled up next to the parking lot where Smith was stabbed.

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As students settled into their morning classes, summer school Principal Emilio Urioste read a biblical passage over the public address system.

Urioste called the stabbing--the first fatal on-campus attack in Burbank--a “tragic, isolated incident,” even as district officials began a top-to-bottom review of school security procedures.

Administrators placed two additional guards at the Burbank High campus Monday and pledged to keep them there for the remainder of the six-week summer session.

City officials also noted that Friday’s stabbing, the latest of several incidents of campus violence in recent years in the Los Angeles area, came just four days before a previously scheduled summit of city, school and police officials today to review security.

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Burbank Schools Supt. David Aponik said each of the district’s secondary school campuses had metal detectors but that they were not used “on an everyday basis to check every student as he or she enters the campus.”

Neither the metal detector nor a police officer on the campus prevented the suspect from carrying a knife to school, and students called for stepped-up enforcement of the district’s “zero tolerance” weapons ban.

Times staff writer Jeff Leeds contributed to this story.


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