The New York City high school student who stabbed one of his classmates to death and gravely injured another was relentlessly bullied for his race and sexuality, friends say.
As he was led out of the 48th police precinct Wednesday night, reporters asked 18-year-old Abel Cedeno is he had been bullied and he mouthed ‘yes’.
Now friends are speaking out to detail the weeks of abuse Cedeno reportedly endured at the hands of classmates Matthew McCree, 15, and Ariane LaBoy, 16.
‘The kids were calling him a f*****, calling him a s**c,’ friend Savannah Hornbeck, 34, told the New York Daily News before Cedeno’s arraignment on Thursday.
Horbeck says that Cedeno reported the bullying to the school, but administrators didn’t do anything.
‘After it had been reported numerous times and there was no reaction from the school, Abel felt (there was) no other way out,’ Hornbeck said.
Cedeno reportedly bought the switchblade he used to attack McCree and LaBoy on Amazon for $13 about two weeks ago.
He snapped when McCree started throwing broken up pieces of pencils at him during their morning history class on Wednesday, grabbing the switchblade which he had stored in a shirt pocket.
‘Those two kids in the class, they hit him,’ another friend, Iris Couvertier, said. ‘He said that they hit him in the face. He said it’s because he’s gay or bisexual.’
Police have hit the teen with several charges for the deadly Wednesday morning incident including murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
Abel Cedeno (pictured Wednesday) has been charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, assault and criminal possession of a weapon
The 18-year-old was arrested Wednesday after stabbing classmate Matthew McCree, 15, to death and critically injuring 16-year-old Ariane LaBoy
Police brought in metal detectors to the school so that classes could resume safely on Thursday
Authorities say Cedeno snapped after 15-year-old classmate Matthew McCree threw a pencil at him as he was trying to leave their history class.
The pencil missed but Cedeno turned around to confront McCree and McCree answered by standing up.
That’s when police say Cedeno took out a $13 switchblade he bought on Amazon and proceeded to stab McCree in the chest.
When another boy, 16-year-old Ariane LaBoy, came to McCree’s defense, Cedeno stabbed him in the chest as well.
Matthew McCree, 15, (left) died after being stabbed in the chest. His 16-year-old friend Ariane LaBoy (right) is fighting for his life in hospital
Above, the $13 switchblade that Cedeno bought on Amazon
‘Everybody just stood back. A few of them were holding Matthew. A few of them were holding towels on the wound,’ classmate Jomarlyn Colon, 16, told the New York Daily News. ‘All the kids were crying and screaming.’
Colon said none of the students were able to hold Cedeno back as he attacked McCree. He said the student hid the switchblade – which police sources told the Daily News is ‘very illegal’ in New York State – in his top shirt pocket.
As he was being led out of the precinct on Wednesday, reporters asked Cedeno (pictured) if he had been bullied and he mouthed ‘yes’
Both victims were rushed to the St Barnabas Hospital, where McCree was pronounced dead. LaBoy was last reported in critical condition.
After the incident, witnesses say that Cedeno walked out of the room and surrendered the knife to a counselor.
He then walked into the assistant principal’s office, sat down and waited while 911 was called.
In his interview with police, Cedeno said that McCree and LaBoy had been ‘harassing him for awhile’.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce said the suspect had been fighting with the two victims since school started two weeks ago.
‘There were arguments going on for two weeks into the school year. It escalated today after some back and forth within the classroom,’ Boyce said.
The incident happened during a Wednesday morning history class at Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Preservation (above)
Students and parents are led out of the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation on Wednesday
Parents and guardians arriving for after school pickup are blocked at an entry at Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation on Wednesday
One of the suspect’s friensd told the New York Post he was being bullied for his ‘flamboyant’ personality and snapped.
‘I heard he was being harassed,’ she said. ‘He’s not aggressive. Everybody loves Abel. He’s not a bad kid.’
Adding stress to his home life was the fact that Cedeno’s mother has been stuck in Puerto Rico ever since the island was decimated by Hurricane Maria.
‘He’s a good kid,’ Norma Perez, 69, a surrogate grandmother for the teen, said. ‘I don’t know what happened this morning. I just know he’s not like that.’
Police say Cedeno had no prior arrests and was not known to be affiliated with any gang.
McCree’s step-father, 34-year-old Kyle Victor, said his son is incorrectly being painted as a gay-hating bully.
‘They need to ask the right questions first before they paint someone and make them look like they’re some mean person,’ Victor told the New York Post. ‘Matthew was not like that at all and they’re making it look like Mathew did not like gay people. That’s wrong, too.’
Victor started raising McCree when he was just seven years old and says that he is ‘in no way bad’.
‘He was very loving,’ Victor said. ‘Every child has their little ways and you know a 15-year-old — emotions and hormones running around — but he was in no way bad.’
But the high school, one of several themed high schools created under Mayor Bill De Blasio’s time in office, has a bad reputation for violence.
Classmates said McCree had been bullying Cedeno (pictured) since the beginning of the school year for his ‘flamboyant’ personality
A city Education Department survey found that only 19 per cent of teachers at the school felt safe on the campus, which is far below the city average of 75 per cent.
That number was higher for students, at 55 per cent. But that’s still far below the city average of 84 per cent of students.
The school was also the scene of three sex offense cases against students in 2016, plus two assaults with injuries and two incidents of harassment with weapons.
There are two schools within the one building – the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, which is a high school and middle school combined. It also has Public School 67, which is an elementary school.
The school, which does not have metal detectors, dismissed classes early but reopen on Thursday with the addition of metal detectors.