5 students stabbed at Palo Seco Sec

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TTUTA president Martin Lum Kin – File Photo

TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Martin Lum Kin believes gang activity may have resulted in a fight at the Palo Secondary School that left five students with stab wounds on Thursday.

Lum Kin told Newsday there was an incident in Siparia over the weekend between students from the Palo Seco Secondary School and other schools, which may have led to the fight.

He also referred to a video on social media showing a student from Palo Seco allegedly masquerading as a Siparia West Secondary School student who went to that school to seek revenge.

Lum Kin said the Palo Seco student, wearing a Siparia West uniform, was allegedly among five students who stormed the (Siparia West) classroom to confront a student from that school.

“They were hurling desks and chairs,” he said as he expressed TTUTA’s concern about indiscipline and violence in school.

A senior police officer from the South Western Division told Newsday that investigations were ongoing and it was yet uncertain what police might unearth when they “dig deeper”; they have no information about gang infiltration in schools.

“We want to believe, at this time, that it is just inter-school rivalry, but to categorise it as gang warfare, it is too early to determine that. We have to be very cautious about what we put out there. What we are trying to do at this time is to see what can be used to deter persons from this type of action.”

He said the legal officer and the investigator were interviewing those involved to find out who were the victims and who were the aggressors.

“We are not sure at this time if the perpetrator is a student,” the officer said.

According to a police report from the Santa Flora police, around 10.10 am on May 23, Cpl Morales and a party of officers responded to a report from the command centre of a fight at the school.

The officers spoke to acting principal Natalie O’Conner, who reported that around 9.50 am, a group of students were engaged in a fight near the main office and several students received minor injuries and were taken to the Point Fortin Hospital by school personnel and the EHS to seek medical attention.

All five were said to be in stable condition with no life-threatening injuries.

Stephen Mc Clashie, Labour Minister and La Brea MP, in whose constituency the school is located, told Newsday he was told six males and one female were injured.

In a WhatsApp message to Newsday, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said five students were injured. She denied social media reports that one of the students died and that the school was dismissed early after the incident.

“I await a full report as investigations are ongoing,” she said.

Mc Clashie said he was very concerned about the incident as Palo Seco Secondary was not one of the “hot spot” or “high-risk” schools.

“Palo Seco Secondary is not known for any bad behaviour, nor have we had any similar experiences in the past. It is a quiet school that does not have a history of violence. It would be interesting to find out what would have caused this.”

Mc Clashie said he had also heard rumours about inter-school rivalry with Siparia West but had no evidence to substantiate those rumours.