PICKERING, Ont. — Students described a chaotic scene at a suburban Toronto high school on Tuesday after a female classmate ran down the hallways knifing people, leaving six students and three staff with non-serious injuries.
A 14-year-old girl was taken into custody and four people were transported to hospital for treatment, although none of the injuries were considered grave, police said.
Sgt. Bill Calder of Durham Regional Police said officers were called to Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ont., at 8:32 a.m. in response to reports of a stabbing. He added that two staff members wrestled the suspect to the ground and held her down until police arrived.
“We’re giving kudos to the staff members that stopped this before it got worse,” Calder said.
“They did the right thing.”
Investigators said in a release they did not believe any particular student or staff member was targeted in the attack.
“She appeared to be acting alone,” Calder said.
Police said the school was closed for the day as investigators were interviewing witnesses.
Psychologists and social workers were at the school for those who wanted help.
Several students described running from a girl brandishing two large kitchen knives careening down the hallways of the school.
One emotional 14-year-old girl said she came face-to-face with the suspect, who slashed at her with the knives.
“I just ran for my life,” the girl said as she began to cry. “I just can’t believe it happened. She almost got me.”
Another student said he saw a girl with a long black coat chasing students in the hall of the school’s tech wing waving a knife in each hand.
“I heard the teachers say ‘clear the halls’ so I started to run outside informing people that there’s a student with a knife, you need to get to safety,” the 16-year-old said in a text message as he sat in a locked classroom inside the school.
Another student said he got to school at 8:30 a.m. and a teacher yelled to get out, that there was someone with a knife. So he bolted outside where he said he saw four tactical officers with guns drawn entering the school.
Zakyr Rhemtulla, a Grade 9 student at Dunbarton, said he was faced with chaos from the moment he arrived at school.
He said as soon as he opened the front door, he saw students running in all directions.
“I’m like ‘oh, what’s happening,”‘ he said in a telephone interview. “So I just kept on walking and some teacher told me, ‘oh, come into this room.’ So I ran into the room. They locked the door, closed the curtains, turned the lights off.”
Another said: “People were running and screaming. There was blood on the ground. I thought it was fake.”
Rhemtulla and a few other students remained in the classroom while the school was in lockdown and police combed the property for evidence.
He said the initial shock of the situation eased up as students monitored social media and learned that no one appeared to be in danger.
“Students are calm, I guess,” he said. “…Police are gone, kids are just joking around.”
In a posting on the school board website, Dunbarton principal Randy Tennant said a student who entered the school with two knives was immediately detected by other students who began to alert others.
“We commend our students for their courage and leadership,” Tennant said.
“Unfortunately, there have been multiple non-life threatening injuries to six students and three staff members,” he said.
“A few of the victims were transported to the hospital and were released, while others were treated at school for minor injuries.”
Several hours after the incident, some students were skateboarding outside while parents milled about, waiting for their sons and daughters to be released.
Lynn Sharma was among those waiting to hug their children.
She said she dropped her son off at school around 8:30 a.m., but got a worrisome text about 30 minutes later.
“He said they were under lockdown and he’s OK, but in a classroom, locked in a room,” Sharma said.
“I just want to bring him home.”