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Victims improving a day after Mountain View High stabbings

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)



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OREM — Students stabbed at Mountain View High School in an apparent random attack continued to improve Wednesday.

The news came as students who were not physically injured returned to school to try to resume normal class activities.

And Orem police continued to search for a possible motive as to why a 16-year-old boy allegedly stabbed five of his classmates before injuring himself with the same knife.

Just before 8 a.m. Tuesday, the 16-year-old boy stabbed five boys in the locker room in the gymnasium area at the school, police said. The 16-year-old has been described by district officials as a straight-A student with no history of problems who had recently enrolled at Mountain View after being home-schooled.

Injuries included wounds to some of the boys' upper torsos and necks, police said.

The 16-year-old then stabbed himself. He was eventually cornered by a teacher and held at bay until the school resource officer arrived and used his Taser to bring the boy into custody.

Four victims were transported to Utah Valley Hospital — two in critical condition — and one was transferred to another hospital in fair condition. By Tuesday afternoon, one of the boys had been released from the hospital, as had the 16-year-old.

On Wednesday, Orem police announced that two patients at Utah Valley Hospital had been upgraded to serious and two others to fair condition. One of those boys in fair condition was expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday.

One boy indicated Wednesday that he already felt prepared to return to class, said Mountain View High School Principal Tara Chun.

"I went to his home and checked up on him last night," Chun said, adding that he also met with the boy's parents Wednesday afternoon. "And he said, 'You know, 'I'm ready to come to school tomorrow.'"

The principal said the same boy had alerted him to the emergency immediately after he was stabbed.

"He said, 'Principal, principal, principal! He said, 'Someone's trying to kill people in the boy's locker room,'" Chun said. "For him to have awareness to run, with his injury, to find an adult — in this case he found me — he saved lives."

The 16-year-old alleged attacker, whose name has not been released, was booked into the Slate Canyon Detention Center for investigation of five counts of attempted aggravated murder.

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The boy's parents issued a letter to the public Tuesday, apologizing for their son's actions, saying they were at a loss to explain why it happened and that the attack was not racially or ethnically motivated.

Orem Police Lt. Craig Martinez said the stabbings were not the result of the boy retaliating for being bullied. He said the victims appeared to be simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"The suspect in this case literally didn't know any of the victims. He knew one of their names. That was it. He was kind of a loner, kind of kept to himself. But there were no signs of any problems at home or at school. So we're all kind of baffled by it," Martinez said. "We've got a young man that decided to commit a violent act on five other kids at his school, totally random."

Martinez said detectives have interviewed the boy and he is "cooperating." Because investigators "are not doctors," he said, a precise motive may never be understood.

Extra police were at Mountain View on Wednesday morning to reassure the students. Balloons with the words "Pray for Unity" were on display outside the school. The student body was also making cards and banners for their injured classmates.

Crisis counselors are expected to be at the school the rest of the week.

Sheri Rowley, a social worker with the Alpine School District, said Wednesday that the school will move forward from the tragedy, but also won't hide from it. Administrators, teachers and students will address it head-on, she said.

"We've seen a lot of coming together. A lot of unity. Mountain View has such a great community, and we've really seen a lot of people pulling together and joining together and sharing the grief and sharing their stories in order to help cope," Rowley said.

Chun agreed, saying students and others have galvanized with one another following the frightening ordeal.

"There has really been a bonding that is taking place, not only within our school community, but within the greater community and people within the city of Orem and Utah County," he said.

Teachers held discussions Wednesday morning, answering students' questions about what had happened before moving forward with the school schedule as normal, Chun said.

Contributing: Sam Penrod, Doug Wright, Mary Richards, Ben Lockhart

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