BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Family members of 16-year-old Bernard Hopkins said the Patterson High student was bullied, leading him to bring a knife to class. He is now facing adult charges for stabbing a classmate on Monday.
“He carries it for protection,” said a family member who asked WJZ to conceal her identity. “The schools need more security and nothing is being done.”
Video posted online shows the incident as it unfolded in an upper-floor classroom.
Hopkins’ relatives say he had to leave school over relentless taunts and only came back to the classroom Monday. “He finally goes back and he had to defend himself against some other students who were bullying him,” the family member said.
The relative also said administrators at the school were aware of the bullying from the beginning of this school year.
WJZ obtained videos that a source says show the victim of the stabbing promising to get retribution. In the videos, you can see a bandaged gash in the victim’s chest and thigh. He’s asked about bullying Hopkins on the videos and denies doing so.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren spoke to several students who witnessed the victim after he was stabbed.
“You just see someone come down the stairs. You could tell he was stabbed. It was crazy,” said a sophomore. “I didn’t think this would happen.”
Students said their backpacks were checked for weapons Tuesday. They said that is a common practice after large fights or violent incidents.
Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English visited the school on Tuesday. She watched the video of the stabbing and called it “disturbing.”
She also praised the “quick and calm” actions of teachers and support staff.
She said members of her union support arming school police with weapons, a measure Baltimore’s delegation in Annapolis voted down. It gained renewed urgency after a shooting at Frederick Douglass High School in West Baltimore earlier this year.
The stabbing at Patterson High School was the second involving a Baltimore City student in less than a week. On Friday, a student at City College High School was stabbed across the street from the campus.
A Baltimore police officer was patrolling Patterson High School when the officer was alerted by a school staff member that there may be a student armed with a knife on the third floor of the school.
The assistant principal, Ms. Williams told police that other staff members helped separate the students.
Ms. Williams said the victim was taken to the school health suite to be treated and evaluated by the nurse for stab wounds that he sustained at the time of the incident.
Police said the incident involving the students happened in a classroom on the third floor, where they had several verbal exchanges.
The victim then approached Hopkins and asked, “Why are you reaching in your pocket?” when Hopkins jumped up from the counter, stabbing him in the left hip and to the right of his chest.
Hopkins then chased the victim around the room and into the hall of the third floor, police said.
Cell phone videos from witnesses were reviewed by police. Surrounding staff members intervened and helped separate the students before officers arrived on the location.
Mr. Bluman told the officer that he held Bernard Hopkins into Room 322, and said he told the assistant principal, Mr. ALukwu and officers that he saw Hopkins throw an unknown object out the window of Room 322.
Assistant principal Mr. Alukwu and Mr. Bluman recovered a closed black and silver switchblade in the school’s courtyard outside of the room, which officers believe was the weapon used.
The victim is in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.
Hopkins was taken to Central Booking and Intake without incident, police said.
The Baltimore Teachers Union released a statement in part Tuesday, saying:
“The incident that occurred at Patterson High School on Monday is inexcusable. Violence of this nature, or of any nature, is completely unacceptable. It is extremely disturbing that in order to feel safe in the classroom, a child felt the need to bring a knife to school.
This horrible incident has several layers. It is important to note that the student who did this stabbing was being bullied. Violence should never be tolerated and neither should bullying. This brings attention to the critical need for increased investments to fully-staff our schools with social workers and psychologists to help deflate situations like this before escalate. Our goal as educators is working to create an environment where children feel safe at school, both mentally and physically.
The BTU’s School Safety Task Force is working to tackle issues of bullying and violence and present real solutions to these problems. We are putting measures in place to dispense the proper consequences for students who bring weapons to school and use them to inflict bodily harm on others.
We are deeply grateful to the educators and school staff for containing this situation in a quick manner. ”