SAFE SCHOOLS

School safety talks planned after California fatal stabbing

Mar 7, 2023, 3:18 PM | Updated: 4:47 pm

Misty Lenwell, mother of Jayden Pienta, receives a hug after speaking to students during a walkout ...

Misty Lenwell, mother of Jayden Pienta, receives a hug after speaking to students during a walkout at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa, Calif., Monday, March 6, 2023. Pienta was fatally stabbed during a fight between students in a classroom at the school last week. (Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat via AP)

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California school district will hear community concerns about campus safety Tuesday in the wake of a fatal stabbing at a high school, a day after the teenage suspect made his first appearance in court.

Prosecutors say the 15-year-old freshman fatally stabbed one classmate and injured another last week in self-defense during a fight inside a high school classroom. The attack stunned Santa Rosa, a community best known for its wineries about 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

The violence has prompted student protests and increased police presence at the Montgomery High School campus. The school district will hold a “listening session” Tuesday afternoon as detectives continue to investigate what prompted the initial fight.

Although the teen was initially booked on felony charges of homicide, attempted homicide and having a weapon on a school campus last week, prosecutors instead brought a manslaughter charge because the teen appeared to be acting in self-defense, The Press Democrat reported. Still, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office says the slaying was not justified under state law.

The freshman appeared in court Monday on one count of voluntary manslaughter with an enhancement for the use of a knife and one count of bringing a knife onto school grounds, the DA’s office said. The teen remains in jail and is due to return to court Friday for a detention hearing.

“There was some action taken on the part of the victim that did mitigate the actions by the minor that we charged, but that we concluded did not rise to the level of complete self-defense,” Sonoma County Assistant District Attorney Brian Staebell said.

Police say the altercation began when two groups of students were arguing last Wednesday outside an art classroom. Once inside, a 16-year-old junior from one of the groups confronted the freshman in the other group as more than two dozen students watched.

A fight broke out, and the freshman stabbed the 16-year-old with a knife at least three times, Santa Rosa police said. The 16-year-old, Jayden Jess Pienta, later died.

School officials broke up the fight, but the freshman got into another brawl with a different 16-year-old junior and stabbed him once in the hand, authorities said. The freshman fled and was later found hiding in a creek bed. Police have not determined what caused the students to fight originally.

“We are still investigating the motive, but we have no significant previous criminal contacts with any of the students involved in this incident,” Santa Rosa police Sgt. Chris Mahurin said Tuesday in an email. “We are working to get school records and determine if (this) school had addressed issues between these students. We do not have those records yet.”

Under state law, prosecutors cannot try anyone under the age of 16 as an adult, however, proceedings for certain crimes — including homicide — perpetrated by juveniles must be held in open court.

The teen’s attorney, the school district and the Montgomery High principal did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. The Associated Press is not identifying the teenager because he is a juvenile.

About 200 students protested Monday during a walkout, saying they do not feel that school officials have done enough to address their safety on campus.

KSL 5 TV Live

Safe Schools

A principal in Davis County School District is calling on parents to help him identify ad shut down...

Debbie Worthen

Davis County principal calls on parents to track down cyberbully on TikTok

An elementary principal in the Davis School District is asking all parents of sixth grade students to help track down and stop a cyber bully.

23 days ago

Dr. Greg Hudnall, executive director of Hope4Utah and founder of Hope Squad addressing Riverton stu...

Karah Brackin

Hope Squads hold training for mental health advocacy, suicide prevention efforts in Utah schools

Hope Squad, a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program, hosted a training on Thursday for students to help reduce youth suicide.

30 days ago

Valhalla Center ribbon cutting...

Shelby Lofton

New center provides warm space for teens who don’t have hot meals, dry clothes, heat

A new teen center is scheduled to open before the start of the 2024-25 school year for students in Davis County without homes, dry clothes, and other necessities.

2 months ago

Emergency lights...

Josh Ellis

Dept. of Public Safety: Several hoax bomb threats reported at Utah schools

State authorities said they are aware of multiple "bomb threat" emails targeting schools in multiple states Friday, including school districts in Utah.

3 months ago

In the midst of Wednesday's shooting at UNLV, one student found herself in a particularly challengi...

Isabella Martin, KTNV

Paralyzed student searches for Good Samaritan who pushed her home during UNLV shooting

A UNLV student is looking for the Good Samaritan who got her out of harm's way during the fatal school shooting.

3 months ago

Las Vegas police stand near the scene of a shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Thursda...

Elizabeth Wolfe, Taylor Romine, Jay Croft and Alaa Elassar, CNN

‘Target list,’ ammo and conspiracy theories: Authorities reveal details on gunman who killed 3 UNLV faculty members

The 67-year-old career college professor who fatally shot three faculty members this week at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, kept a “target list” of faculty at the school and elsewhere, said authorities searching for a motive.

3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

School safety talks planned after California fatal stabbing