A 17-year-old boy was fatally stabbed by a schoolmate, who also injured another student, inside a far South Side alternative high school Thursday morning.
The teenager believed to be the perpetrator, who is also 17, is in Chicago police custody following the 7:30 a.m. incident outside the AMIkids Infinity high school, 10211 S. Crandon, said Chicago Police Officer Robert Perez.
The victim, Chris Wormely, was the intended target of the attack, a police source said. Chicago police are still searching for the weapon, sources said. Wormely was standing in line for a patdown inside the school when the attacker rushed at him and stabbed him, police and his family said.
Wormely’s sister Carleasa Wormely, 27, said her brother was a junior at the school. Chris Wormely had transferred there from Lawrence Hall, a school for at-risk youth on the North Side, after the family moved to a home on the city’s Southeast Side, she said.
She described him as shy around people he didn’t know and said he volunteered at the city’s animal shelter, walking dogs and taking them out for breaks. He suffered from ADHD and was classified as having a learning disability, which is why he went to an alternative school, she said.
“He wanted to go back to Lawrence Hall,” she said. “He said all the kids did at that [new] school was gangbang. He actually had a new red coat that he stopped wearing and would just wear a grey hoodie in the winter because he didn’t want any conflict out there if he wore that color.”
The 16-year-old wounded student was attempting to break up the altercation that started between the teenager in custody and the one who died, said Sherri Ulleg, director of communications for AMIKids, the Tampa, Fla.-based non-profit that runs the school where all three teens attended. Those two previously had issues with each other, though Ulleg didn’t know what the issues were.
“The kids had had some previous tensions before but they had never had any kind of physical altercation prior to this,” Ulleg said. “They did receive counseling at school for some of the issues they were having.”
Carleasa Wormely said she didn’t know of any dispute her brother had with the teen in custody. She said her brother hadn’t been in school Wednesday or the week before.
AMIkids Infinity has fewer than 50 students, Ulleg said.
“The majority of kids are emotionally and learning disabled,” she said. “We work with them to help them get back into public schools or they stay with us through graduation.”
Chicago Public Schools spokesman Frank Shuftan said CPS contracts with AMIkids to serve students with behavior and emotional needs that cannot be met at a traditional public school. The AMIkids Infinity school in Chicago serves both CPS and non-CPS kids, he said.
“We have not had a previous situation of this magnitude,” said Willie Tubbs, executive director of the school, which moved into a space on the South Side that previously housed Oliver Goldsmith Elementary School about a year ago.
Thursday’s stabbing occurred inside the school’s entrance, where students are required to go through security screenings using metal-detecting wands and patdowns. Ulleg said the stabbing was witnessed by other students and by the school staff, who wait at the school entrance’s screening point at the beginning of the school day.
School staff immediately called 911 and Ulleg said police and paramedics responded “incredibly quickly.” Students and staff were dismissed at 2 p.m. today. Grief counselors will be on campus tomorrow.
“Our hearts go out to the families,” she said. “We treat all our kids like family and our staff work really hard to create a family environment.”
Carleasa Wormely said she was racing to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn this morning to see her brother when she heard a radio report about the stabbing.
“Ten seconds after that I got a phone call – Chris had passed away,” she said. “We are not good.”
Charles Wormely, Chris Wormely’s brother, said he wanted to thank the student who was injured trying to intervene.
“One of Chris’ friends tried to help him and he got stabbed too,” he said. “We want to thank him and his family.”