An Abbotsford high school will remain closed until Monday, November 7, as police investigate the deadly stabbing of a teenage girl.
Shocked and grieving friends and classmates continue to lay flowers outside Abbotsford Senior Secondary, where a 21-year-old homeless man is now accused of killing a 13-year-old girl, and wounding her 14-year-old friend.
The high school will remain closed until Monday, as the Superintendent says the focus is on healing.
Support services will continue to be made available across the street at St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church.
Second degree murder charges have been approved in a horrific Abbotsford double stabbing that left a teen girl dead and another badly hurt.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says 21-year-old Gabriel Brandon Klein has also been charged with one count of aggravated assault in yesterday’s attack.
Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pound with IHIT says police believe the attack to have been random, and have yet to speculate about a motive.
Pound says Klein originally comes from Alberta, but is of no fixed address, and investigators are having trouble filling in gaps in his background.
“We know that he frequents the Vancouver area and has been in the Vancouver area since approximately February, March of this year. There’s very limited information we have on Mr. Klein, and for that reason, we’re asking for public’s assistance,” she said.
Pound says police hope to have a photo of Klein to circulate soon, and that investigators are looking to speak with anyone who had contact with him in person or online.
WATCH: IHIT provides an update on the fatal Abbotsford double school stabbing
Greatest loss imaginable
Police say the murder victim was just 13-years-old.
A Christian youth group that Reimer and the surviving victim, a 14-year-old girl who was her close friend were members of also took to Facebook this afternoon, announcing a vigil at the South Abby Church this evening at 7 p.m.:
“It will be a difficult time but please make every effort to be here, even if you didn’t know Letisha so that you can be with your brothers and sisters in their time of need.”
Meanwhile, a memorial Facebook page has also been set up to honour the fallen teen.
The incident took place just after 2 p.m. yesterday, when police were called to Abbotsford Senior to reports of a man with a weapon and at least one student injured.
When they arrived, they found the male suspect who had been subdued by staff, along with two students who had been stabbed, both receiving first aid from staff as well.
The two female victims were rushed to hospital where one later died, the other remains in stable condition.
Superintendent Kevin Godden described how Gabriel Brandon Klein was apprehended by staff, after he allegedly attacked the two students.
“They stopped this individual first by just yelling at him, and then the staff converged on him while the knife fell from his hands and they got him to take a seat while they held him in some restraint and then provided first aid to the students who were obviously hurt.”
IHIT Staff Sergeant Jennifer Pound says as a police officer, she would never want somebody to “inject themselves” into these kind of situations. Pound says police officers go into situations where somebody’s life is in danger and police themselves may have to use lethal force.
“So when you’re talking about the general public going in an taking action and actually being able to apprehend somebody like this… It is heroic, it should be commended and we are lucky to not to have further individuals who were hurt in this.”
A cell phone video of the incident that went viral appears to show an attacker grappling with a young woman, before stabbing her and tossing the knife away, while screaming can be heard.
The incident prompted a lockdown of Abbotsford Senior and Abbotsford Junior secondary schools, which remained in place for several hours while anxious parents waited in a separate area for news of their kids’ safety.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has now taken over.
WATCH: Premier Christy Clark reacts to the deadly “random” Abbotsford stabbing
Shock and grief
Abbotsford Senior Secondary remains closed today while police investigate, and shocked and grieving students are being offered support at a church across the street.
Acting school district Superintendent Angus McCkay issued a statement saying the entire district is “deeply saddened” by the violence.
He says they have activated their “critical incident response protocol,” deploying teams to the gym at St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church where information and grief counselling are being provided to students and staff, as well as other affected schools.
An emotional Christy Clark called the attack a tragedy, adding it would be an understatement to say everyone is shaken by the attack.
She also praised the heroic efforts of staff.
“Two senior staff stepped in and probably saved a life. They thought fast, they showed real courage, and one of those children is alive today,” Clark said.
Clark says an investigation must be completed before action is taking on possibly increasing security at schools.
The Prime Minister also took to social media today to express condolences, tweeting “As a parent it is heartbreaking to hear of the tragedy at Abbotsford Senior Secondary. My thoughts are with the entire school community.”
As a parent, it is heartbreaking to hear of the tragedy at Abbotsford Senior Secondary. My thoughts are with the entire school community.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 2, 2016
The motive behind the attack remains unknown.
While it is not believed the attacker was a student, officials now say he appears to have no connection to the school or victims either.
Abbotsford school Superintendent Kevin Godden was unable to confirm reports Klein may have been at the school previously the day of the attack.
“We do not have that information,” he said. “The first call that came from the school was to the police, to 9-1-1.”
Some parents are also asking questions about school safety, pointing to the fact that Abbotsford Secondary shares a building with a public library with public access.
Godden says the district takes security seriously, and regularly practice lockdowns, but “you can never truly prepare for situations like this.”
He says at the time of the attack, no protocols were in place regarding strangers on the school grounds, a situation that will now be reviewed.
Community reaching out with love and support
Friends, family, and those who have heard about the tragedy from afar are reaching out via social media to give their condolences to Letisha’s loved ones.