Hamilton

4 teens in custody in stabbing death of boy outside Hamilton school

Hamilton police have arrested two more teens in connection with the stabbing death of a student at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School on Monday.

Deadly attack behind school 'difficult to comprehend,' officer says

Devan Bracci-Selvey, 14, has been identified as the teen who was fatally stabbed outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in Hamilton on Monday. (Selvey Family)

Hamilton police have arrested two more teens in connection with the stabbing death of a student at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School on Monday.

The new arrests are of two 16-year-olds, a male and a female, and both are in custody for first-degree murder. They have not yet been charged. Those arrests bring the total number to four, after an 18-year-old and a 14-year-old were arrested and charged with first-degree murder on Monday.  

On Tuesday, police identified the victim as 14-year-old Devan Bracci-Selvey.

He was attacked behind his high school just before 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday while he was with his mother. His death marks the city's ninth homicide in 2019. 

"This entire incident is disturbing. It's difficult to comprehend right now, to be honest with you. I can't imagine the way the [victim's] family feels right now," said Det.-Sgt. Steve Bereziuk during a media update Tuesday afternoon.

He added police have received help from numerous witnesses, and had located a knife near the scene that's believed to be the weapon used in the attack.

"I think this is one of these investigations that hits the heart of the community. It's very serious and people sympathize."

Four people, between the ages of 14 and 18, have been arrested in connection with the homicide, the city's ninth in 2019. (Christine Rankin/CBC)

The first two accused made brief appearances at the John Sopinka Courthouse on Tuesday. Their names are covered by a publication ban. They remain in custody ahead of their next scheduled court appearance on Oct. 21.

Both are barred from contacting a list of 26 people whose names were read out in court. Bereziuk said many of those names are people who came forward to help with the investigation and he expected that list to grow.

When the 14-year-old left court in a white court outfit, he did not look at or talk to anyone other than his lawyer.

As the 18-year-old left after five minutes in court, he waved to people in the front row who waved back. He spoke only with his lawyer.

Bereziuk said the teens were charged with first-degree murder because investigators are "satisfied based on evidence that there is some element of pre-planning."

Students stunned, many stayed home

Wary students headed back to class Tuesday morning with police tape still up and the school's Canadian flag at half-mast. 

They arrived as if it were an ordinary morning — and yet it wasn't. Kids gravitated together at the front of the school, most at a loss for what to do or say faced with their schoolmate's death. 

Students said they were stunned by the idea that there would be "an empty desk" where their classmate normally sat. Karissa Flanagan, who had been in classes with the victim, said that the police presence outside the school served as a constant reminder that he was truly gone. 

"You don't expect something [bad] to ever happen, especially at 14," she said. "It hits hard." 

And student Shannon Rioux-Smith said he expected most students wouldn't come to class at all today. 

"You hear about it in other places in Hamilton. But your school? In the backyard? That's very alien," he said.

The Hamilton police forensics team was on the scene to take more photographs at the back of the school. Inside the school, grief counsellors were available for students. 

In a news release, Hamilton police said that around 6 p.m. Monday, another male youth was arrested, interviewed and released unconditionally once his "involvement in the investigation was established."

Manny Figueiredo, director of education at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, was at the school Tuesday morning.

"Enrolment is a little lower today. Some parents have said, 'I just want to keep my child home,'" he told CBC News. "Many have come in because they want to talk and make sense of this act of violence."

He was a 'sweet, quiet kid'

Alice Smith, who has lived just down the road from the school for the past 14 years, said she was sitting in her front sunroom with her husband on Monday afternoon when five teens came around the corner, with a car following close behind.

Smith said it appeared to her the woman in the car was trying to help the boy. 

"She said she tried to save him, but she just couldn't do it," Smith said. "She was very upset. She couldn't stop crying."

Kandace Brenn, who also lives in the area, said she knew the victim, and he had been a visitor to her house. She described him as a "sweet, quiet kid" who kept to himself.

Kandace Brenn got a call from her niece asking her to drive her and her best friend, the victim's girlfriend, to the hospital. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

She said her niece called her to give her a lift. The niece wanted Brenn to drive her and her best friend to the Hamilton General Hospital emergency room, where the victim had been taken. Both girls are students at the high school, and her niece's friend was the victim's girlfriend, said Brenn.

"As soon as I got to them, I just started breaking down, 'cause I knew it was bad — the look on their faces. She couldn't even breathe." 

In the car on the way to the hospital, she said the friend described finding the victim unconscious and bleeding. Later, she got a call from her niece that he hadn​​​​​​'t survived.

"She doesn't know how to cope. She doesn't know how to help her best friend through it," said Brenn.

Brenn said the victim had a rough start to high school, with bullying and being picked on. But she did not know if that had any connection to what happened Monday.

WATCH - From The National, 4 teens arrested in Hamilton school stabbing death:

Four teenagers have been arrested after a 14-year-old was stabbed outside his school. Devan Selvey was attacked while standing with his mother on Monday. 2:07

With files from Christine Rankin