SPRING, Texas — There was chaos at Spring High School Wednesday when a fight left one student dead, three others injured and hundreds of parents frantic.
The 17-year-old victim, whose name has not been released, was stabbed to death.
Luis Alonzo Alfaro, 17, has been arrested and charged in connection with the crime.
Chelitha Brady's daughter saw the whole thing and described it to her mom in a call that made her heart stop.
"She said, 'Mom, the young man just fell dead on me,'" Brady said. "She said, "Momma, it was some guys, they went to fightin' and they went to stabbin... You just got to come, you just got to come.'"
Brady managed to get inside the school to check on her daughter before it was locked down. She said she saw the victim's body lying in a hallway.
The most seriously injured victim was 16-year-old Deaveon Brazil. He was flown by Life Flight to Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute. Brazil, a junior, was upgraded from critical to good condition Wednesday afternoon and released.
Two other students were taken by ambulance to Memorial Hermann and Houston Northwest Medical Center. Both are expected to be OK.
Three "persons of interest" — all Spring High School students—were taken into custody, according to Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.
After questioning them, HCSO determined 17-year-old Luis Alonzo Alfaro was the "lone suspect" in the stabbing. He was arrested and charged in connection with the violence.
Investigators believe other students who were handcuffed at the school and detained were witnesses.
The fight broke out around 7:10 a.m. at the school near Interstate 45 and Cypresswood Drive. Bad blood between two groups who reportedly fought earlier in the week led to spilled blood in a hallway near the cafeteria.
Some students said it was a gang fight. Deputies are working to determine if rival gangs were involved, according to Sheriff Garcia.
The school remained on lockdown and hundreds of parents who rushed to the scene were kept away from the campus for the next six hours. "A little worried... you never want to see yellow tape across your daughter's school," said Katherine Kerron. "It's just unacceptable. There needs to be a drastic change."
As the hours ticked by and the temperature soared, the frustration level also rose.
Many parents outside communicated with their children inside by phone and text messages to confirm they were OK.
They were furious over the lack of information from Spring ISD. KHOU reporter Jeremy Desel spoke with parents who gathered at a Sonic across the street from the school.
"Well, number one we’re concerned about our kids. One of my kids was kind of there in the area when they seen it and they’re frantic and scared, and here the police are telling us to move our vehicles," Kenneth said. "(My son) told me that he was scared and he wants to come home. We can all understand at this point, right?"
The father said his son described the scene to him, saying the incident appeared to happen in a back hallway.
"They were walking out of the area when it happened, but they sent pictures to me of all the blood everywhere. All they texted and told me was one died and, out of the total, five were stabbed. All students." Parents of the students who were affected have all been notified, administrators said.
The worried father said he had three kids—one freshman and two seniors—at the school and he shared what he was going to say to his kids when he could finally wrap his arms around them. "That I love them, that I was there, even though I couldn’t get them," he said through tears.
Gabrielle Whitlock, a parent and former Spring ISD teacher, was among those frustrated by the way the district handled the incident.
"Why aren’t they out here? I’ve been out here trying to console parents because I’ve been though those lockdown drills, I know exactly what is going on inside that building," Whitlock said.
"This is Dr. Draper’s fault. When is he going to get a reality check that we have discipline issues? There’s a hundred kids in this school that cause problems and 1,400 that are good kids in here."
Whitlock said she taught the student who was killed. His name hasn’t been released.
"I’m angry and I am hurt that a school district and a school that I love, that I came back to teach at, that I had to leave because of the stress of kids like this," Whitlock said. "I love teaching, that was my passion and now I see something like this, I am angry and I am hurt. My son is sitting in English class and this is his second week of high school? Where are the administrators?"
The district finally sent out a phone alert to parents just after 10 a.m. confirming the death and injuries. The alert mentioned a lockdown, but did not say anything about releasing students. That finally happened around 1 p.m. District officials explained they kept them the students inside because many of them witnessed the deadly fight and police wanted to question them.
Brady said her first priority is to get counseling from her daughter, who was very shaken up by what she witnessed.
"And to see what I can do as far as getting her out of Spring High School because it could have been my child because the stabbing was right there before her eyes," Brady said.
Other angry parents said they plan to home school their children. Whitlock summed up the shared frustration of many Spring ISD families.
"There’s not a single parent out here that wants their kid going to this school, but we can’t move and so we’re stuck with this." Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Ralph Draper later said the initial lack of information was due to security concerns.
He promised parents they would "flood them with information" now that the danger has passed.
"In my nearly 30-year career, this is one thing that you pray never happens," Dr. Draper said. "Please remember these children." Classes at Spring High School have been canceled until Monday.