The violence broke out on the high school campus on Cypresswood at North Freeway at the beginning of the school day. A confrontation at 7:10am in the cafeteria area led to a fight that left 17-year-old Joshua Broussard dead inside the school, and three other teens injured.
Luis Alonzo Alfaro, 17, is charged with murder. The Harris County Sheriff's Office says Alfaro admitted pulling a knife during the fight and stabbing four people. Broussard died at the scene. Randall Moore, 17, and two 16-year-old boys were injured as well. Two of the injured were treated at local hospitals and released, with one victim remaining hospitalized in good condition.
At the time of the stabbings, three youths were taken into custody for questioning, but Alfaro was determined to be the sole suspect. The other two are considered witnesses to a crime, according to investigators.
A student inside the school at the time told Eyewitness News described the situation as chaotic and says students were 'freaking out.'
An eyewitness who didn't want to be identified said the fight began between Latino and African American students and quickly spread, a version of events supported by other witness accounts via social media.
He said, "All I saw was a trail of blood. It was, like, a trail of blood from the beginning of the cafeteria to all the way to the nurse's office. I saw the dude bleeding and bleeding and just holding his side."
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic event. Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and the students who have been impacted by this event. We sincerely thank our parents for their patience as we focus on keeping our students safe and protecting the integrity of the ongoing investigation," said Spring ISD Superintendent Ralph H. Draper.
He said grief counselors will be available on campus.
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said the stabbing could be gang related. The Sheriff's Office and the Spring Independent School District will provide additional security at the campus.
Some parents said the fight was the continuation of a disturbance that broke out Tuesday. Officials at the school, which has about 3,500 students, would not confirm their comments.
"Every parent sends their child to school believing school should be one of those safe haven places," Draper said. "This is what we spend our nights and days working toward and what I lose sleep over. In my nearly 30-year career, this is the one thing you pray never to experience."
Parent Tara Campbell said she received text messages from her daughter about the fight and that her daughter said students who witnessed the episode snapped cellphone photos of the victims as they lay on the ground.
Campbell said she intended to have her daughter home-schooled, saying she's grown tired of fights at the school.
"Last year there were gang fights consistently," she said. "This is ridiculous. This is an ongoing situation."
Lakesia Brent said her son, a sophomore at the school, sent her multiple text messages asking her to come pick him up.
"He's just afraid," she said, adding that fights at the school were a problem in the last academic year.
The school was on lockdown all morning, as the campus was still considered an active crime scene investigation and deputies were interviewing witnesses. Students were finally released between 12:15 and 12:30pm.
Many parents were upset that the school district did not provide them information in a timely manner.
Draper defended the district's actions, saying they focused on two goals - securing the school and making sure no action was taken to compromise the investigation - before communicating information to parents about what had happened. He said students were not immediately released because some of them were potential witnesses who needed to be interviewed by investigators.
"When street violence pours into the school, it compromises the safety of all our students," Draper said.
Healing after tragedy
Those in the community of Spring looked for a time of togetherness to deal with Wednesday's violence and all the emotions that went along with it. A vigil was held to remember Broussard.
It was a peaceful gathering much different than what happened several hours earlier and a few miles away just days into the new school year
"This is how I'm going to remember my freshman year," said student Morgan Dowling. "Someone died."
"We thought, 'Oh, it's just a fight and then it got really serious," said student Danielle Ferreira.
For those who were personal friends with Broussard, they focused on the memories.
"I want him to be remembered today for the boy that was funny, cool, never started nothing," said friend Jason Gordon.
"I'm sad for Josh, the kids and most of all his mother and father," said student Vickie Whitehead.
And this entire community is feeling it.
"We need to pray for the victims and even the kids involved in the stabbing itself," said Senior Paster Mark Estep of Spring Baptist Church.
And while the healing will take time, so will settling back into studies.
"I'm not scared to go back," said senior Shawna Miller. "It's just the people and that could happen anywhere."
According to Karen Garrison with Spring ISD Media Relations, classes have been cancelled at Spring High School for Thursday and Friday. Additionally, Thursday's sub-varsity games have been cancelled. However, the varsity football game on Friday, Sept. 6 will be held at Deer Park at 7pm and the varsity volleyball team will play at 6:30pm at Klein High School.
The school district has an information phone line for parents to call with questions for the school. It will be available from 10am to 2pm Thursday, Sept. 5 and Friday, Sept. 6. The information phone number is 281-891-6575.
Sheriff Garcia asked members of the public with information about the violence to contact the Sheriff's Office (713-967-5810) or Crime Stoppers of Houston (713-222-8477). Anonymous tips in the form of emails, texts, photos and video can be sent through the free smart phone application iWatchHarrisCounty (more info at iWatchHarrisCounty.com).
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.