Stabbing at St. Paul's Harding High leaves boy, 15, dead; 16-year-old in custody

Two police cars outside a high school
Police vehicles are parked outside Harding Senior High School in St. Paul following a fatal stabbing on Friday.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Updated: Feb. 11, 2:30 p.m. | Posted: Feb. 10, 1:19 p.m.

A stabbing inside St. Paul’s Harding High School Friday morning left a 15-year-old student dead and a 16-year-old student in custody.

Investigators are still working to learn what led up to the stabbing, police spokesperson Mike Ernster told reporters at a late afternoon briefing. He called the student’s death, the city’s first homicide of 2023, a “terrible incident.”

The school went into lockdown at about 11:45 a.m. Officers responding to a 911 call from the school found Harding staff members providing first aid to the boy who’d been stabbed. He was taken to Regions Hospital where he was pronounced dead, Ernster said.

Officers located the 16-year-old on scene at the school, and a weapon was recovered, he added.

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Authorities don’t believe there were other victims or suspects. As a precaution, Ernster said St. Paul police beefed up their presence around city schools Friday, “just to provide calm.”

Gov. Tim Walz was among those who reacted to the incident.

“As the dad of a St. Paul student, I’m heartbroken for the Harding High School community and the family of a student who lost their life today,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “We have offered our full support and have been assured that the area is now secure.”

Harding started letting students leave the building at about 1:20 p.m. Evening activities and weekend events at Harding have been canceled. Classes for students are canceled on Monday as well.

“We are doing everything we can to support the students, staff, families and community this evening and in the days and weeks ahead,” Joe Gothard, the St. Paul schools superintendent, said in a statement.

“Right now our focus is on supporting the Harding High School community and those who were directly impacted by this horrible incident, especially the family of the victim,” Gothard added. “Our young people need us more than ever.”

In a letter to members, St. Paul Federation of Educators President Leah VanDassor said the stabbing left her both “enraged” and “sad.” She encouraged educators to wear Harding colors, Maroon and gold, starting on Monday.

SPFE is also hosting a candlelight vigil Monday evening at 6 p.m. in front of the school.

Watch: Police briefing Friday on Harding High School stabbing, via KARE 11: