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Student stabbed, assailant arrested

A Pagosa Springs teenager is healing after sustaining multiple stab wounds during a fight at Friday night’s high school football game.

At approximately 8 p.m. on Sept. 23, officers were dispatched to Golden Peaks Stadium, on the high school campus, for a fight in progress, reported Det. Scott Maxwell of the Pagosa Springs Police Department.

Upon arriving, Archuleta County Deputy Michael Bishop contacted the victim, 15, who was being treated by EMS personnel who were on standby for the game.

The victim had suffered multiple stab wounds to the head, forearm and torso, Maxwell reported.

The victim made a brief statement to Bishop, including the name of the subject who had stabbed him, Maxwell said.

The subject, also 15, was subsequently located by Cpl. Tim Walters of the ACSO as he was attempting to the leave the area and the suspect was detained pending an investigation, Maxwell said.

PSPD Officer T.J. Fitzwater interviewed numerous witnesses, Maxwell said.

The suspect was then arrested on charges of second degree assault. He is being held at the Robert E. Denier Youth Services Center in Durango.

Maxwell confirmed that the suspect was on probation at the time of the incident.

The victim was transported from the scene by ambulance and was eventually flown via helicopter to Mercy Regional Medical Center, where he was expected to be released during the weekend, Maxwell said.

Schools Superintendent Mark DeVoti said the victim is expected to be back at school this week.

Law enforcement personnel are still on the lookout for the weapon allegedly used in the attack. Maxwell described the weapon as a “knuckle knife or push-dagger knife.”

DeVoti said the knife used had a half-inch blade that left puncture wounds as the victim was punched.

It was believed to have been picked up from the high school grounds near the scene of the fight.

Anyone with information relating to the knife or anyone who witnessed the fight or has any pertinent information who was not interviewed by law enforcement is asked to call either Fitzwater at 264-4151, Ext. 240, or Maxwell at 264-4151, Ext. 241.

The incident also left Archuleta School District 50 Joint with an investigation of sorts to complete.

While relieved that the incident did not have a worse outcome, DeVoti admitted the truth of the incident.

“The bottom line, someone got stabbed at a football game,” he said, adding, “It’s still disconcerting that it happened.”

DeVoti said school officials looked into the incident immediately, meeting Friday night, talking throughout the weekend and meeting again on Monday.

High school principal David Hamilton said the school also employed its crisis management team during the incident, with the team meeting Sunday afternoon, as both a precaution and in a training exercise to better prepare for possible future incidents.

All district counselors were on call Monday for students wishing to discuss the incident, Hamilton said.

“Our fears were not met,” Hamilton said.

DeVoti said the school district immediately followed up with the parents of the victim who, at the time, was still in the hospital for medical observation.

“We consider this to be an extremely isolated, nontypical incident,” DeVoti said, echoing a written statement he sent via e-mail over the weekend.

DeVoti said the suspect in the incident was on suspension as a disciplinary measure for violating the school district’s code of conduct and was not allowed on school property at the time of the fight.

DeVoti said all the main gates at the game were supervised during the game, and the suspect likely did not enter through a main gate.

High school athletic director and assistant principal Sean O’Donnell agreed, stating that seven staff members were working the game, providing adequate supervision. He also noted the difficulty of watching every dark corner during a night game at Golden Peaks Stadium.

All three administrators who spoke with The SUN said they believe the supervision at the event was adequate and will not change in the future.

“We, obviously, when something like that happens, we analyze what happened, where we could have done things differently,” O’Donnell said, adding that a knee-jerk reaction to the incident would be improper. “It doesn’t become a pattern because of one incident.”

O’Donnell did say there would be a heightened awareness moving forward, but that focus should not be taken away from the event.

“It’s too bad that an incident like this happened,” O’Donnell said, adding, “Safety is important to us and we don’t take it lightly.”

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