HAVERHILL — Police said a 14-year-old student pulled a knife on a staff member at Haverhill Alternative School and ran from the building before being wrestled to the ground by several officers in a neighbor's yard.
Alternative School Principal John DePolo said the boy, who has been at the school for about a month, refused to go to class yesterday morning.
DePolo said a staff member brought the boy to a counseling room to talk to him when the boy pulled out a knife and threatened him. DePolo said the boy did not try to stab anyone with the knife and that there have not been any prior disciplinary problems with the student. Another staff member discovered what was happening and called police. DePolo said that in the meantime the boy dashed out of the school and was followed by a staff member.
Police spokesman Sgt. John Arahovites said police responded to a call from the school at 8:37 a.m. The school is housed in the St. James School building on Primrose Street and provides a structured, therapeutic, educational setting for students in grades six through 12 who have been unsuccessful in other school programs.
Arahovites said an officer arrived on Primrose Street, near 14th Avenue, and saw the victim, who police identified as Alternative School staff member Robert Farrell, 50, pointing to a young boy.
"The officer approached the boy and told him to get rid of the knife he was supposed to be carrying," Arahovites said. "Two more officers arrived and the boy started breathing heavily and his face turned red."
Arahovites said the officers chased the boy a short distance as he tried to get away.
"They caught up to him, pinned his arms to his side, then placed him on the ground and handcuffed him," Arahovites said. "He was found with a knife in his shirt. It looked like a kitchen knife."
This was the fourth incident this month in Haverhill of students making threats in their schools. Earlier this month, a 14-year-old Haverhill boy attending Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School was charged with nine counts of threatening to kill. Court documents show he had a "hit list" containing the names of nine students. A 13-year-old boy was charged with using a knife to threaten a fellow student at Hunking Middle School, and then a Consentino Middle School student was charged with threatening to kill. Investigators said he had a "hit list" containing the names of fellow students.
Yesterday, police charged the Alternative School boy with assault with a dangerous weapon, a knife, threatening to commit a crime, and resisting arrest. After being booked at the Haverhill police station the boy was transported to Lawrence Juvenile Court. The Eagle-Tribune is withholding his name because of his age.
DePolo said the boy is suspended from school for one day and must attend a meeting this week in which a decision will be made about his future at the school. DePolo said the boy lives in a local group home and staff from that program will be allowed to accompany him to the meeting.
"If in any way we believe that he will pose a threat in the future, it could affect his status here," DePolo said.
Some students attend the alternative school for several months before returning to their own schools. Others might stay with the alternative program until they graduate.
"Our goal is to continue working with him," DePolo said of the boy who was arrested.
Threats this month in Haverhill schools
r A 14-year-old boy attending Haverhill Alternative School was charged yesterday with pulling a knife on a school staff member.
Earlier in April
r A 14-year-old Haverhill boy attending Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School was charged with nine counts of threatening to kill. Court documents show he had a "hit list" containing the names of nine students.
r A 13-year-old boy was charged with using a knife to threaten a fellow student at Hunking Middle School.
r A Consentino Middle School student was charged with threatening to kill. Investigators said he had a "hit list" containing the names of fellow students.