DOWNEY, Calif.--Murder and other felony counts were filed today against an 18-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend at their high school in South Gate, and also injuring a fellow student and school administrator who came to the girl's aid.
Abraham Lopez of South Gate is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Downey Superior Court on one count each of murder and false imprisonment by violence, two counts of bringing or possessing weapons on school grounds and three counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and assault upon a peace officer.
Cindi Santana, 17, was stabbed multiple times last Friday during a lunchtime argument in a courtyard at South East High School.
A varsity football player, 11th-grader Jorge Garcia, and a female dean were stabbed or cut while trying to stop the attack, school police said. It took about 15 stitches to close a cut on Garcia's arm.
"During the argument (Lopez) began suddenly striking (Santana) with his fists and then pushed her to the ground," said Deputy Benjamin Grubb of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau. "The suspect then stabbed the victim several times before being subdued."
Witnesses described Lopez grabbing Santana and putting her in a headlock as several people tried to intervene in a courtyard away from classrooms. She died during surgery at St. Francis Medical Center.
Prosecutors will ask that Lopez's bail be set at $1.28 million. If convicted, he could face life in prison with the possibility of parole, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The mood remained somber today at the campus, amid stepped-up security.
School and district officials held a meeting for parents at the campus, and grief counselors were on hand to aid students affected by the on-campus stabbing. Students brought flowers to add to a growing memorial to their fallen classmate.
"I didn't think he would have gone this far," student Ruby Sarias told ABC7, adding that the couple had dated since ninth grade.
"The thing she told me is he seemed really obsessive," Sarias told Channel 7. "She would tell me that even when they weren't together, he would get upset about her talking to other guys."
Some parents questioned why Lopez was allowed on campus, since he had been arrested earlier last week for allegedly making threats against Santana and her family. He was released on Tuesday when prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence to file charges, ABC7 reported.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said Santana's mother notified the school principal about what had happened, and campus security officials were on the lookout for Lopez--but he never came to school last week.
Lopez did not attend classes on Friday, but he came on campus around lunchtime, when the violence broke out, officials said.
Deasy said students who are in abusive relationships should go to school officials for help.
The Los Angeles Unified School District board is expected to discuss a resolution next week calling for schools to take steps to prevent teen-dating violence.
The proposed resolution calls for the appointment of a "prevention coordinator" to spearhead efforts to educate students and district workers about violence prevention, and for the designation of a prevention liaison at each campus to work the with the coordinator on disseminating information to students.