16-year-old charged with murder in St. Paul Harding High stabbing

St. Paul schools, police exploring 'future model' of cooperation

Person talks at podium next to others
St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard addresses reporters on Tuesday following a fatal stabbing the Friday prior at Harding High School. He and other city leaders say they intend to craft a new approach to schools and policing in the wake of the killing.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Updated 6:10 p.m.

Ramsey County prosecutors have charged a 16-year-old boy with second-degree murder for allegedly fatally stabbing a fellow student during a fight Friday at St. Paul's Harding High School.

The teen was charged Tuesday by juvenile petition. The Ramsey County Attorney's Office said it's seeking to have him tried as an adult. The teen is due to appear in court on Tuesday afternoon.

MPR News is not naming the suspect while the case remains in juvenile court. He's accused of fatally stabbing 15-year-old Devin Scott in a school hallway on Friday. Court documents say it was Devin's first day at Harding High School.

A person holds a balloon bouquet in front of a building
People arrive with balloons during a vigil at Harding High School on Monday.
Stephen Maturen for MPR News

Separately, St. Paul’s school superintendent said Tuesday that district, police and city leaders are working to craft a new approach to schools and policing in the wake of the killing at Harding High.

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The district removed police from its buildings following George Floyd's murder in May 2020 and has since hired school support liaisons to provide security. They do not carry guns, but do have handcuffs and pepper spray. Harding has added a third full-time support liaison.

School district and city leaders agreed to have two St. Paul police officers assigned to Harding, Central, Como and Humboldt high schools and Washington Technology Magnet School during this week.

A third “full-time school support liaison” is also being added to the security staff at Harding.

Two police cars outside a high school
Police vehicles are parked outside Harding High on Friday following the stabbing.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Superintendent Joe Gothard told reporters Tuesday said he was ready for a conversation “to see if we can redefine what a formal partnership looks like with the St. Paul Public Schools” and the police.

Axel Henry, the city’s police chief, echoed that sentiment. “The old model” of school resource officers “was a different environment,” Henry told reporters. “We’re going to build a future model of policing” and until then “we stand ready to help 24-7 as long as the school district needs it.”

St. Paul Federation of Educators president Leah VanDassor said she was thankful the district was taking action, but had reservations about turning to police.

“Armed personnel does not seem like the right way forward,” VanDassor said. “We’ve worked hard as an educator union over the past few years to really push for more counselors, social workers. The early interventions and helping our students, and helping them work through problems or concerns they may have in their lives. That’s something I’d like to see more of as a preventative measure rather than a reactive measure.”

VanDassor wants district leadership to involve teachers as they’re planning more long-term approaches to some of the violence schools are experiencing.

Charges: Argument led to stabbing

Charging documents released Tuesday say that witnesses, including an assistant principal, saw the suspect, the victim and a third student starting to argue and then fight in a hallway just before noon Friday.

The suspect had been a student at Harding since the start of the school year; the victim had started attending Harding that day; and the third student had been attending the school for about a week.

Exterior shot of Harding High School with police3
The scene outside the school on Friday after the school went into lockdown.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

The assistant principal told investigators he could not hear what the argument was about. Another staff member reported seeing the suspect on the ground, with the victim and the third student on top of him, throwing punches.

After staff members separated the students, the suspect allegedly produced a folding knife and stabbed Devin twice, in the chest and stomach. Witnesses said Devin then ran toward the nurse's office before collapsing. He was pronounced dead at Regions Hospital.

Security staff eventually detained the suspect, and said the teen stated “they jumped me — they jumped me.”

Blue and white balloons float in the sky
People release balloons during the vigil on Monday.
Stephen Maturen for MPR News

The incident was caught on "multiple surveillance cameras," the court documents state. The cameras show Devin was walking backward and that his hands were empty when he was stabbed.

Classes at Harding were canceled Monday and Tuesday. In a statement late Tuesday afternoon, the district said the school would also be closed for students on Wednesday and Thursday.

Students are expected to return Friday on a modified schedule, staying in their advisory classrooms throughout the day, with a 1:30 p.m. early release.

Watch: St. Paul school district and city leaders speak to reporters Tuesday afternoon about school safety in the wake of the Harding High stabbing, via KARE 11: