Turlock police and the Turlock Unified School District have issued a joint statement claiming that the alleged stabbing of a 6-year-old boy by a classmate with a pencil was, officially, an accident.
However, numerous witnesses continue to support the victim’s version of events, that the first grader was stabbed in the throat on Feb. 27 by a boy who had previously bullied the victim and several other classmates.
And Turlock Police Department representatives, quoting the police report in question, say that the the stabbing was only “possibly” an accident.
According to a statement attributed to TUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor, commenting on behalf of Superintendent Sonny Da Marto, the two boys were pretending to sword fight with their pencils in a classroom when the incident occurred.
“One child stumbled forward and the other child was accidentally poked,” Trainor said. “There was some indication the child may have actually poked himself in the scuffle.”
A licensed vocational nurse was called to walk the victim to the office, with what Trainor describes as a pencil “pinched in the skin of the child’s neck.” The nurse then checked vitals, found no bleeding and stated the child did not appear to be in pain.
“The nurse and health technician followed standard first aid care and reporting procedures,” Trainor said.
Staff called the child’s family, Trainor says, while the assistant principal interviewed the students. The victim’s father and mother were unable to pick up the child, as they were in Modesto for a dental appointment, and the boy’s grandfather instead picked the boy up.
The boy sat in the office for 10 to 15 minutes with the pencil stuck in his neck, before the grandfather arrived. He asked for a piece of tape and adhered the pencil to child’s neck, then drove the child to the ER.
“This was clearly an accident and not a malicious act,” Trainor concludes. “The child was not ‘stabbed’ as has been mistakenly reported in the media, but was inadvertently and unintentionally poked. The district acted appropriately and professionally to provide immediate care for the injured student.”
Police Report, Some Witness Reports, Differ From District’s Story
Turlock Police Department spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis confirmed Thursday that School Resource Officer Joseph Ramos interviewed the boy allegedly responsible for the “poking” and a second witness for a new, follow-up report.
The boy and the witness both claimed that the victim slipped and fell on his own pencil while playing swords.
Lewis says Ramos noted in the report, dated March 3 but only just made available to the TurlockCityNews.com, “it is determined to have possibly been an accident. There was no argument prior to the incident and the two boys appear to be friends.”
The father of the boy who was allegedly stabbed, Ruben Aguilar, maintains his son was stabbed and not “poked.”
“If he fell on it I would think it would go in further,” Aguilar said. “And as far as them being friends they (TPD) never saw them together, and just because they are playing together doesn’t mean my son wasn’t being bullied.
“He is 6 years old, and he doesn’t get that when someone is hitting on you everyday it means they are not your friend. Little kids don’t always get that, but you would think school administrators would know that” said Aguilar. “There were a lot of people on Facebook who have kids in that class who said the boy was a bully.”
Aguilar also noted he reported the bully to school administrators on three separate occasions, and that the bullying went unaddressed.
In the days following the incident, dozens of people have claimed bullying to be an ongoing, unaddressed problem at Crowell Elementary School.
Aguilar acknowledged the incident began as two boys playing swords with their pencils. But in a televised interview with KCRA, Aguilar said the boy allegedly said “have you ever played chicken?” and then stabbed his son in the throat, unprovoked.
Esther Tobar, the mother of a student in the class, posted numerous comments on Facebook which support Aguilar’s story.
“That kids needs to be taken out of the classroom, my daughter witnessed it all,” she posted. “This kid is obviously disturbed and needs help!”
In another post she wrote, “I'm not sending my daughter to school tomorrow since she's in the same class that he still remains in. I'm not going to chance it. I'm very irritated with school. He's bullied and hit my daughter before. He needs help and Crowell school is not the place for him to get it, and that's all I can say.”
Also, the victim’s grandfather previously told TurlockCityNews.com that no nurse was present when he picked the boy up from the school.
“I ask where the nurse was, they said she was somewhere else at another emergency,” he said.
Aguilar has also said that Emanuel Medical Center emergency staff considered the injury to be serious, despite the school nurse’s opinion. The boy was transferred via ambulance to the Childrens Hospital of Central California for treatment.
Ultimately the stabbing incident itself is not necessarily what upsets Aguilar. He remains upset that his child was left in the school office with a pencil stuck in his neck rather than taken to a hospital, and that the Turlock Unified School District has not apologized.
“I’m confused about that whole thing,” Aguilar said. “ My son is still scared to go to school. But regardless, kids will be kids, but it’s about how they (Crowell administration and staff) handled the situation. I got stuck with a $6,000 bill and I’m not even worried about that either. Nobody from the school district or the school has called me to apologize for how they handled the situation or shed any light onto what happened.”
Given the conflicting reports, Lewis put the pencil incident into perspective.
“This is why we don’t go and handcuff and arrest 6-year-olds,” she said. “Any one of them could be lying because they don’t want to get in trouble. It is what kids do.”