Girl fatally stabbed at high school

A teenage girl died after a lunchtime stabbing Friday at South East High School in South Gate, and another student has been booked on suspicion of murder. A school dean and one another student were also injured.

The 17-year-old girl, a senior, was stabbed in the side and back , allegedly by her estranged boyfriend. She died of complications during surgery at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood about 7:45 p.m., Los Angeles Unified School District Police Chief Steve Zipperman said.

Abraham Lopez, 18, a senior at the school, is being held without bail, Zipperman said. The girl was not identified pending notification of her family, he added.

The hospital was briefly locked down late Friday in response to a bomb threat in the parking garage. Authorities said it was somehow related to the stabbing.


The injured dean, who is also a teacher at the school, and the injured male student, an offensive lineman on the school’s varsity football team, had stepped in to break up the fight. Both sustained non-life-threatening wounds, said Monica Carazo, a district spokeswoman.

Students said the couple had been together on and off since 9th grade and would walk the halls holding hands. The attack broke out shortly after 11 a.m., at the beginning of lunch break. Witnesses said the fight was over a breakup, and that the boy began choking the girl and put her in a headlock.

“She couldn’t do nothing,” said a 17-year-old senior, who witnessed the incident. “I’m still shaking. It’s a shocker.”

Ninth-grader Giselle Noriega was eating lunch when she said she noticed the couple arguing.

Suddenly, the boy grabbed the girl in a headlock and began punching her, said Noriega, 14. They fell to the ground, as the dean stepped in to stop the quarrel.

As havoc erupted, Noriega said, the football player, Jorge Garcia, ran to help the teacher break up the fight. “The guy stabbed [Garcia] in the arm. A lot of people were trying to separate the fight,” she said.

Garcia, a junior, was supposed to play in a game Friday night. His coach, Derwin Henderson, said Garcia received about 15 stitches before being sent home from the hospital.

School officials said they will contact parents to explain what happened. Counselors were on campus to assist students, said L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy.

“We want to remind students that violence is never the answer,” Deasy said.

Some parents waiting outside the school were incensed. Marisol Aguirre’s son graduated last year and she still volunteers at the school.

Citing staff layoffs since her son left, she said: “This school wasn’t like this. They had more protection, more help.”

Times staff writer Ben Bolch contributed to this report.