17-year-old girl dead after stabbing at Edmonton-area high school

A 17-year-old girl is dead and a 19-year-old male suspect is in custody after a stabbing Monday morning at Christ the King School in Leduc, Alta., about 35 kilometres south of Edmonton. RCMP say they are investigating the student's death as a homicide.

RCMP arrest 19-year-old male suspect, say student's death being investigated as a homicide

RCMP vehicles are seen parked outside Christ the King School in Leduc, Alta., Monday after what the school division said was a stabbing. According to RCMP, a student was airlifted to hospital in Edmonton, where she died of her injuries. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

A 17-year-old girl is dead and a 19-year-old male suspect is in custody after a violent assault at a Catholic high school south of Edmonton on Monday morning.

The attack, described by both the mayor and the school division as a stabbing, took place at Christ the King School in Leduc, Alta., about 35 kilometres south of Edmonton.

Though RCMP have not confirmed if the victim was stabbed, they said the death is being investigated as a homicide, and the Major Crimes Unit is taking over the case. 

The first calls about a violent assault at the 350-student school for grades 9 to 12 came in just before 10 a.m. MT, RCMP said.

Inspector Dale Kendall said the attack happened inside one of the school's classrooms. However, she would not say if other students were present at the time. 

A 19-year-old male suspect left the school, RCMP said, and was later arrested at around 12:20 p.m.

Kendall confirmed the male was a student at the school and that he and the victim were known to each other, but no other details were provided. 

The girl was airlifted to an Edmonton hospital, where RCMP said she died from her injuries. 

School lockdown lifted

Bob Young, the mayor of Leduc, said all schools in the area were locked down following a stabbing in the morning. The lockdown was lifted by early afternoon.

"I can't imagine what the parents of that child are experiencing right now," said Young, who worked as a teacher for 36 years before he was elected mayor. 

"I've never experienced anything like this before." 

A news release from St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic school division (STAR) reported the death of a student after what it said was a "tragic stabbing incident." 

"This loss will be felt deeply across the Christ the King School community, and across our Division as a whole," said Superintendent Charlie Bouchard in the release.

"We cannot express deeply enough the sorrow we feel for the family members, friends and staff members who have lost a loved one today, and whose lives will be forever changed." 

School working to support witnesses 

Young commended police and the STAR school division for their prompt response. He also expressed concern for students and staff at the school. 

"I really hope they get through this well, and I know they'll be doing everything they can to help those students impacted," he said in an interview with CBC News before RCMP announced that the victim had died.

"I know STAR Catholic schools, their first priority is going to be getting supports in place to deal with all the students that witnessed this." 

According to the school division's news release, a trauma support team is currently at the school and will remain on site for the rest of the week.

Classes were cancelled for Tuesday, March 16, but the division said the building would remain open for any students needing to access support services. 

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said he was shocked by the incident. 

Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange said she was heartbroken to hear about the incident and encouraged anyone struggling in the wake of the incident to reach out to the various support options available. 

With files from The Canadian Press