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Orem • School officials and police say they will continue to investigate why a 16-year-old boy with no prior disciplinary problems allegedly stabbed five fellow students at Mountain View High School on Tuesday, and then inflicted a knife wound on himself.
Faculty, staff and administrators also will look at whether the school offers the best training for detecting mental illnesses and whether students have the support they need, according to Kimberly Bird, assistant to the superintendent of Alpine School District.
In addition, they will discuss security at the 1,300-student school, and what measures should be taken to keep students from bringing weapons inside, Bird said.
"We hate the idea of having metal detectors in our schools, just for the look and feel, and yet our kids' safety is our most important priority," Bird said. "It will be something we talk about."
The victims were stabbed in the neck and torso, police said, and the suspect had a wound to his neck.
All six were taken to area hospitals, and none of their injuries was considered life-threatening; the suspect and one victim were released from the hospital in the afternoon. The suspect was arrested and taken to Slate Canyon Detention Center, Orem police said.
Four of the victims were taken to Utah Valley Hospital in Provo and, as of midafternoon Tuesday, two were in critical but stable condition, one was in fair condition and one was transferred to another hospital for additional treatment but listed in fair condition.
The suspect, a sophomore who started at the Orem school in August, had previously been home-schooled, Bird said. She said the teen is a straight-A student with an excellent attendance record, and there had been no signs of problems.
"There were no prior disciplinary issues with him," Bird said.
Orem police released a handwritten note from the suspect's parents, who expressed their "deepest condolences" to the victims' families.
"None of the victims had done anything to hurt him," the parents wrote. "This was in no way racially or ethnically motivated. We are at a loss to express how deeply sorry we are for the pain and injury caused. Our thoughts and prayers will be with the boys and their families."
A news release from the police department said investigators believe the stabbings had nothing to do with race, religion or ethnicity.
"The suspect had not been bullied by any of the victims; this was not retaliatory," the release said. "The victims in this case appear to have been chosen simply because of their proximity to the suspect at the time the incident started."
"This was a tragic, unforeseen event that no one could have prevented," the release also said. "Our only hope is that we can learn from it and pray that it never happens again."
At a Tuesday morning news conference, Orem Police Chief Gary Giles said the suspect was taken into custody by a school resource officer who happened to be at Mountain View preparing to teach a class when he heard reports of a fight in progress at 7:47 a.m.
The officer arrived at the boys' locker room, Giles said, to find teachers and school staffers already had "put themselves in harm's way" to protect other students by cornering the knife-wielding student in a bathroom area of the boy's locker room.
Giles said the officer used a Taser to subdue the student, but not before he inflicted several wounds to himself, including to his neck area, with a knife with a 3-inch blade.
The incident was over by 7:53 a.m., six minutes after the initial 911 call, the chief added.
Investigators were processing statements from several staff and student witnesses to determine the chronology of the attacks. The chief said "there were a lot of students in there getting ready for a PE class."
Student Ben Ortiz, a 15-year-old sophomore, said he was in the locker room about 10 minutes before the stabbings. He was standing in the bay of his locker when a boy at a locker behind him someone he did not know started saying profanity-laced "stuff" to him, he said.
"He wanted to fight," Ortiz said. "It was real weird to have someone call you out."
Ortiz said he refused to fight and left the locker room. He did not know if the boy was the one involved in the stabbings.
"Everyone's scared," Ortiz said. "There's lots of girls crying."
Witnesses described a bloody scene at the school.
Kevin Call, a 15-year-old sophomore, said that as soon as he entered on the south side of the building, he saw blood on the floor.
"There was a trail of blood," he said. "I thought somebody had a bloody nose."
Sophomore Katie Pond, 15, said she was late for class and walking down the hall when news of the attacks broke.
"A kid walked by me and he was holding his neck," she said. "He was dripping blood. There was blood everywhere."
Alpine School District spokesman David Stephenson said school counselors and social workers were being made available to all students and staff.
The school, at 665 W. Center St., was under lockdown for about two hours after the episode. As of 9 a.m., police had cleared the school and classes resumed, although students were allowed to leave with their parents, and a majority of them did.
Tamu Smith said her daughter sent her a text saying the school was on lockdown because someone had gotten stabbed. Her son, who also attends Mountain View, usually goes to the locker room when he gets to school, she said.
"I tried to contact him," she said. "I didn't hear from him."
Finally, she got a call from him on a friend's phone saying he was OK. Smith picked up her daughter and son and brought them home.
Paxton Ransom, who saw the blood and one of the victims on the floor, texted his mother to let her know he was all right. Alicia Ransom came to the school anyway.
"I had to see him," she said, "and give him a hug."