WASHINGTON — A ninth-grade student died on his third day back to school, after he was stabbed by a fellow classmate outside a college prep school in Northeast, D.C. Police confirmed in a somber news conference Wednesday.
Authorities identified the teenage victim as Kemon Payne of Southeast, D.C.
Prosecutors later charged a 16-year-old classmate of Kemon's with second-degree murder while armed. Police said the 16-year-old suspect will remain unidentified because of his age.
Payne was fatally stabbed outside of KIPP DC College Preparatory School during a fight around 3 p.m., authorities said.
D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III added investigators are still assembling a timeline of events leading to the stabbing. Briefing reporters feet from the crime scene, he called the killing "senseless," and urged families to reflect on how to help young people.
"I think that’s what the focus really should [be], what do we do to help our young people in this city resolve conflict peacefully without resulting to the use of knife or gun or violence either," Contee said. "Whatever comes of this, I’m sure, whatever the underlying issue, it’s not going to be something a 15-year-old kid should have lost his life over today at the conclusion of school.”
Clarion calls for parents and neighbors to elevate their guidance and care for District youth were immediately echoed by activists after Payne's death.
"We need to look at ourselves and bring back the village," said Sade Wright, founder of the Wright Family Foundation. "If a mother or a father isn't rising to the occasion, and young people are truly turning to violence, neighbors need to realize the safety of all children this is their responsibility, too."
The non-profit group Guns Down Friday also offered counseling and therapy services to family and friends of the teenage victim and suspect.
"We try to be where we can be, when we're needed," said Kate Ross, the group's director of programming. "Anything that parents or friends need, we're here. Because all the kids are going to be devastated as well."
In a statement, the school said classes were canceled Thursday to allow students time to process the tragedy.
"The sudden passing of a student is devastating for all of us, particularly for family and the staff who knew the student well. Classes at KCP will be canceled tomorrow, Thursday, August 19. However, counselors will be virtually available to help students process this heartbreaking news," KIPP DC College Preparatory said in a statement.
D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie released a statement following the deadly incident, claiming that a D.C. police officer was inside the school on duty when the incident occurred.
"I am deeply saddened to share that a 15-year-old student from KIPP DC College Prep lost his life today," McDuffie said in the statement. "I send my sincerest condolences to the family involved and the entire KIPP DC community."