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Police hit ‘stone wall’ in World of Wonder school stabbing case

Dayton police asking again for the public to share any information, tips in the case.

A reward is being offered to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest of the man accused of stabbing a 7-year-old girl on the playground at World of Wonder school.

     
  • Surveillance video released of stabbing incident
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  • School board mulls fencing at school, a reward for arrest 
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  • Search continues for male suspect 
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  • If you have info, call 333-COPS or 222-STOP
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UPDATE @ 10:06 a.m. (June 3):

Dayton police Lt. Andrew Booher offered some updates in the case of a 7-year-old stabbed on a school playground May 6.

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“At this point in investigation we’re at a stone wall,” Booher said, who added initially lots of tips from the public came in. “We need more information coming in now.”

A light-skinned black male in his early 20s approached the World of Wonder school playground from the tree line, pushed the small girl off the swing and stabbed her, Booher said. The man was wearing a beige hooded sweatshirt, orange T-shirt and blue shorts.

“The man was either dropped off or walked up,” Booher said.

UPDATE @ 12:06 p.m. (June 1):

A reward for information leading to an arrest in this stabbing has increased to $7,000 by management of Dayton Airport Hampton Inn in Englewood and Meadowbrook Crossing Shopping Center in Clayton, said Brad Smith, a lawyer representing the two businesses.

“They were terribly troubled by heinous acts of violence against an innocent child,” Smith said.

Information regarding reward should still be inquired through Dayton Public Schools.

UPDATE @ 1:41 p.m. (May 27):

The reward for information that leads to the conviction of the individual who attacked a second-grade student on the playground of World of Wonder school May 6 has exceeded its goal, according to school officials.

The Dayton Airport Hampton Inn donated $5,000 to the fund, the district said.

Dayton Public Schools is working with Crime Stoppers and anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 222-STOP.

UPDATE @ 4:37 p.m. (May 20):

Dayton police released surveillance footage today from outside the World of Wonder School that shows the assailant approaching the swing set area; then after the stabbing occurs, the video resumes and shows folks running from the area. The video also shows people tending to the 7-year-old stabbing victim.

UPDATE @ 12:27 p.m. (May 17):

Dayton Public Schools is offering a minimum of a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of the individual who attacked a second-grade student on the playground at World of Wonder PreK-8 School on May 6.

Jyllian Guerriero, legal counsel for Dayton Public Schools, said the reward money is all privately-raised funds, donated by district employees and community members.

The reward amount could go up as more money is donated.

“The board believes a crime against one of our students in the city of Dayton is a crime against the Dayton community at large,” Guerriero said. “They won’t rest until this person is found. This child was innocent. We care for her. We want everyone to know this is very, very important to us.”

Crime Stoppers is offering an additional $1,000 to anyone who provides information that will help lead to the arrest. The suspect is believed to be in the range of 18 to 30 years old, a black male with light complexion, medium build and short hair.

“We need help from the public,” said Detective Elmer Querubin with Crime Stoppers. “No child should ever have to go through that situation. We’re doing our best to find the suspect.”

UPDATE @ 1:56 p.m. (May 13):

Cruiser camera video released Friday shows an adult male approach the an officer arriving at World of Wonder school following a stabbing on the playground.

The adult male directs the officer to the playground as several other people are seen leaving the area.

UPDATE @ 10:20 p.m.: The school board for Dayton Public Schools, at their meeting, said they will consider upgrading surveillance cameras and are looking into installing a fence at World of Wonder, a pre-K through 8 school on Oakridge Drive.

Board President Adil Baguirov also asked the board to consider offering a reward for the arrest and prosecution of the assailant. That suggestion was met by applause from the audience.

Board member John McManus: “I hope you find whoever did this and hunt him down like a dog.”

Baguirov said those safety measures listed at the meeting by DPS security — along with adding a safety whistle and an evacuation plan to outdoor protocols as well as enforcing that only school personnel may be on playgrounds during school hours — are “in advanced stages of study” and most, if not all will be implemented.

Assistant Chief of Police Mark Ecton reiterated that police have no known suspect.

“Someone saw something. Someone knows something,” he said. “We’re looking under every rock, we’re shaking the bushes trying to find that person.”

Matt Carper, chief of patrol operations, said the surveillance tape of the incident would be released “in the near future.”

UPDATE @ 2:40 p.m.: The father of the 7-year-old girl stabbed in the back on a Dayton Public Schools’ playground on Friday wants answers from the district.

Vernon Nored, who said his daughter is home recovering from a collapsed lung, hired attorney Michael Wright to investigate the World of Wonder’s role in the attack.

“The school, for me, has not been involved. They haven’t called,” Nored said, adding that he knows his daughter’s teacher and the principal personally. “I don’t know if it’s school funding that you can’t have a gate around the school? They say they have people walking through that area all the time.”

The school has told the girl’s parents that she doesn’t have to return for the last few days of school. Nored said his daughter will be attending a different school next year.

He said police told him the unknown attacker asked the girl and her friends what their names were, pushed the girl down and stabbed her in the back. Nored added he hadn’t seen the surveillance video, but that it was recorded from a long distance from where the incident happened.

“The family contacted me to investigate the circumstances of their daughter being stabbed at school,” Wright said. “No one expects to send a child to school and for them to get stabbed.”

Wright said that if the school security officer called in sick that day, why didn’t the children have recess in the school gym instead? Wright also said maybe there are policy changes needed to prevent this happening again. Nored speculated that he thought perhaps gang initiation was a possibility or that a “crazy” was just walking through the playground. He was in Cincinnati when a family member called him to tell him what happened.

He said the school wanted to verify who he was when he called them from a phone number that had recently changed and that the school also didn’t call the girl’s mother.

Nored said it was horrible to see his usually fun-loving, outgoing daughter in a hospital bed. Wright said the girl may need some counseling. “I want to go through the pain,” the dad said. “Let me go through it.”

The father said his daughter has always wanted to be a doctor and that “she wants to take care of kids now.”

UPDATE @ 2 p.m. (May 10):

The 7-year-old girl stabbed at school last week will most likely not return to school this year, her father told our reporters. The child’s father said the family will consider a new school for next year.

UPDATE @ 2:38 p.m. (May 9):

Sgt. Richard Blommel of Dayton police said during an afternoon press conference, a K-9 unit track of the suspect on Friday did not turn up any leads.

Blommel said there’s no suspect or motive yet. He said the initial indication is this was a total stranger, and the suspect was only on school property for a matter of seconds.

“This was an unprovoked attack,” Blommel said. “The person who would do this to a child is an animal and we need to get this animal off the street.”

The girl’s condition has “vastly improved” and she’s expected to be released from the hospital today. Blommel said the child was on a swing when she was stabbed.

A handful of young students as well as several adults have been interviewed in the case. The victim was stabbed once.

“We need the help of the citizens of Dayton to help catch this heinous criminal,” Blommel said.

UPDATE @ 11:54 a.m. (May 9):

Dayton school board member John McManus praised the work of the district’s crisis team Monday morning in the wake of Friday’s stabbing at World of Wonder school.

McManus, who was at the school greeting families, said extra counselors and nurses worked with regular school staff “to help care for the whole person,” whether students and families were fearful or confused.

McManus said the extra effort was needed, citing fear among young students.

“I spoke with several kids, probably 8 years old, this morning who were scared to go out on the playground,” McManus said. “There was one child who was clinging to his father’s leg who didn’t want to go to the classroom unless his father walked him to the classroom. The kids know what’s going on.”

RELATED: Board member after school stabbing: Make sure ‘this never happens again’

Dayton Public Schools made plans for extra security this week while children are outside, but McManus said the forecast of rain for much of the week may be a bit of a blessing.

“We really want to be cognizant of the feelings of some of these kids who may not want to go out on the playground,” he said. “The rain gives everybody some time to try to soothe some feelings and make everyone feel safe again.”

UPDATE @ 10:47 a.m. (May 9):

Dayton Children’s Hospital officials said they are unable to release any information about the child who was brought to the medical facility following a stabbing at World of Wonder school Friday.

This news organization is selecting not to release the victim’s identity at this time.

UPDATE @ 7:58 a.m. (May 9):

Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Lori Ward had a message prior to students arriving to school today after a 2nd grader was stabbed on the playground Friday “It is safe. It is safe at World of Wonder.”

Extra security is at the school, Dayton police have been driving around the neighborhood and a crisis team is at the school for students and staff, Ward said.

“This is a very senseless, cowardly act that happened on Friday and it’s really our priority that our students and our families and our staff are safe,” she said.

While students won’t be outside much today due to the rain, Ward said they are making assessments for the rest of the school year.

A condition update on the girl who was stabbed was not available.

FIRST REPORT

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A second-grader at World of Wonder school was stabbed Friday by a male who entered the playground while she and other students were at recess.

Dayton police are continuing their search for the male, believed to be 18 to 20 years old, who stabbed a 7-year-old second-grade student during recess on the playground at World of Wonder PreK-8 school, 4411 Oakridge Drive.

As police continue their search, students and staff will return to school today. Dayton school officials will increase security at the school for the “foreseeable future,” especially when students are outside, a school spokesperson said this weekend.

The student, whose name has not been released, suffered serious injuries and remains at Dayton Children’s Hospital, according to Dayton police.

The preliminary investigation suggests that a male walked onto the playground about 1:30 p.m. Friday and stabbed the girl, then left the area headed toward Kammer Avenue.

“A man stabbed somebody,” a school secretary told 9-1-1 dispatchers. “They stabbed them on the playground.”

During the same call, another employee is heard telling the secretary how the victim was doing.

“She’s laying face down and the police are here,” the employee said.

The school was placed on lockdown. Students were dismissed just before 4 p.m.

Principal LaDawn Mims-Morrow, in a letter sent to families of World of Wonder students, said, “a trespasser entered our playground during recess today and assaulted one of our students. The incident is being actively investigated by Dayton police, who are pursuing a lead.

“The quick action of district security, administrators and our staff and students allowed us to clear the area and enter the building in an orderly manner following the incident. The building was then placed on lockdown as authorities conducted their search through the neighborhood.”

Mims-Morrow said counselors will be at the school on Monday if students need them. She also said there will be additional security at the school in the days ahead “whenever our students are outdoors.”

David Lawrence, Dayton Public Schools chief of school innovation, echoed Mims-Morrow’s comment that police “have a very clear and strong lead and are working on apprehending the suspect.”

He said, “We can’t predict some of these types of things. Most of our schools have security resource officers as part of their regular operations.”

Lawrence said he was at the school, located in a neighborhood that struggles with crime issues, within 2 or 3 minutes after the attack and brought extra security personnel with him.

Lawrence said he would like to tell parents “We will have lots of additional adults here [on Monday]. This is an anomaly, something that just doesn’t happen every day.”

District spokeswoman Jill Moberley said World of Wonder school usually has one DPS security guard in the building, but the individual wasn’t there Friday. Moberley said she wasn’t sure if that was because of illness or some other issue.

Two security guards responded from Thurgood Marshall High School, two blocks away.

“The two guards who responded from Thurgood were there in an instant,” Moberley said.

Late Friday afternoon, police released a description of the suspect:

Black male, light complexion

* Medium build, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10

* 18 to 20 years old

* Short hair

* Blue or beige gym shorts

* Tan or green hooded sweatshirt

* Orange undershirt.

If you have any information about the suspect or this crime, you are asked to call Dayton Police at 333-COPS or Crime Stoppers at 222-STOP.

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