18-year-old charged in alleged assault at Northwood High School -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated at 4:41p.m. on Oct. 16, 2012.

A Northwood High School student was charged with first-degree assault and other crimes after allegedly stabbing a fellow student inside the school Monday morning.

Chidat Tarawally, 18, of the 12500 block of Winexburg Manor Drive in Silver Spring was taken into custody at about 12:10 p.m. on school grounds, Montgomery County police said.

Officers arrived to the scene and found a 15-year-old male student with a “puncture wound” to his upper leg, police said. The assault took place in a hallway near the school’s cafeteria just before 11 a.m., said Officer Janelle Smith, a county police spokeswoman.

The victim, who has not been identified, was taken to Holy Cross Hospital with a non-life-threatening injury, according to a letter sent to parents by Northwood Principal Dr. Henry Johnson Jr.

Tarawally fled the scene but was quickly located and arrested with the assistance of school security staff, police said. Tarawally was charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault, possessing a weapon on school property, possession of a concealed deadly weapon and reckless endangerment, said Officer Rebecca Innocenti, a county police spokeswoman.

Only four days before the stabbing, Tarawally and the victim were involved in a fight at a school bus stop, Innocenti said. Police were not called about the incident at the time, she added.

Dana Tofig, spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools, said he was not made aware of any fights or related incidents at school bus stops in the days leading up to the stabbing. Regardless of what precipitated the stabbing, school officials were taking the incident very seriously, Tofig said.

“Bringing a weapon to school almost always leads to suspension, and can lead to expulsion,” he said, adding that the actual use of the weapon against another student made the incident even more serious.

Police were still trying to determine if a knife found on school grounds was the one used by Tarawally.

Johnson informed parents of the incident through email, a message on the school’s PTSA listserv, and a letter that students took home with them, according to Brad Sperber, a vice president of the school’s PTSA board and parent of a sophomore currently attending Northwood.

“I do view it as an isolated incident,” Sperber said, noting that there had been other incidents of violence that took place at Northwood in the last year but had involved students from other schools.

“As a Northwood parent and a resident of the local community, I’m not happy to learn this happened,” he said.

Parents were informed of the suspect’s arrest as of 1:45 p.m. Monday, he said.

“I appreciate the timeliness and detail of the [principal’s] response,” he said.

“You see the headline ‘stabbing at local school,’ and assume the worst,” he said.

sjbsmith@gazette.net