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Santa Rosa police chief to place officers at school where deadly stabbing happened

PIX Now -- Sunday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom
PIX Now -- Sunday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom 09:56

SANTA ROSA -- Santa Rosa Police Chief John Cregan released a statement of his "commitment to safety" on Saturday after a high school student was stabbed to death at Montgomery High School on Wednesday.  

The 16-year-old boy, Jayden Jess Pienta, was fatally stabbed during a fight Wednesday morning in an art classroom.   

Cregan faced students at a press conference on Wednesday who questioned why there was no police presence on campus that could have responded quickly to the altercation. Cregan said that there used to be police stationed on campus, but that the school board changed that policy; he said he'd been advocating to have school resource officers return.  

Cregan has "hand-picked" three officers that will be on the Montgomery High campus on Monday, he said.  

"Not only as your police chief but also as a father of children who go to school in Santa Rosa, I want to reassure the students, the families and the faculty that I and the entire Santa Rosa Police Department, the mayor and city council, and the city manager are committed to ensuring our Santa Rosa schools are safe," he said in his statement.  

Cregan said the officers on campus will be there to be a "reassuring" presence on campus and will be available to talk to teachers, students and parents "to let them know they are safe." 

The Santa Rosa Police Department has been called to schools in the city 945 times in the past year, Cregan said, and 97 times at Montgomery High.   

Cregan would like to bring back the School Resource Officer Program, he said, "with any modifications that better meet the needs of our community today."  

A "listening session" will take place at the Friedman Event Center on Tuesday, hosted by Santa Rosa City Schools, Cregan said. It begins at 4:30 p.m. at 4676 Mayette Ave. in Santa Rosa.  

The events unfolded on Wednesday morning, when staff at the school called police at 11:11 a.m. to report a fight, Santa Rosa police Sgt. Christopher Mahurin said. When officers arrived at 11:15 a.m., they found two boys with stab wounds and began life-saving efforts.  

The victims were taken to a hospital, where Pienta died. The other student, also a 16-year-old junior, suffered at least one stab wound but recovered. 

The suspect in the stabbing, a 15-year-old freshman at the school, fled and was eventually found by authorities hiding near a creek at Highway 12 and Farmers Lane. He was taken into custody and booked into the Sonoma County Juvenile Justice Center on suspicion of crimes that include homicide, attempted homicide, and having a weapon on a school campus. 

Investigators said that an argument preceded the stabbing. About 11 a.m., Pienta and the other 16-year-old junior had walked into an art class that they were not attending and a fight broke out with a 15-year-old freshman, police said.  

"The class teacher and three aides were able to briefly break up the fight, but the three students quickly began fighting again," Mahurin said. 

The 15-year-old brandished a knife and allegedly stabbed both 16-year-olds, according to police.  

The suspect then fled the classroom and ran from the school campus, while the two injured students walked to the school's medical office. 

During the fight, there were 27 other students in the class, authorities said. 

"This is truly a sad day," said Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Anna Trunnell at the Wednesday news conference. "The tragedy that happened here today is heartbreaking."  

Students from several schools staged the walkout Friday, gathering at Maria Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa. They called out administrators for what they say is a failure to address issues on campus after the fatal stabbing at Montgomery High School Wednesday.  

The fatal stabbing was not the only incident to require Santa Rosa police response in recent weeks.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested for bringing an unloaded firearm to Maria Carrillo on Wednesday. The week prior, Santa Rosa police arrested a 16-year-old student for allegedly setting a fire at the school on Thursday. 

"I do not currently feel safe coming to school," said Maria Carrillo High School junior Myiah Lucio. "That there was a gun on campus and we weren't educated of that – and in light of recent events – I don't feel safe at school."

Also Read:

Parents say there is a history of bullying within Santa Rosa schools that has never been addressed.

On Thursday, the mother of one of the teens injured in the deadly classroom stabbing said officials at Montgomery High could -- and should -- have done more to prevent it.  

Santa Rosa police detectives are investigating what led to the fight and the relationship between the students.  

Anyone who witnessed the fight is asked to talk to police detectives. In addition, police are seeking any video footage that might have been taken before and during the incident. Witnesses can reach out to SRPD detectives at (707) 543-3590.

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