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A teenage boy is dead and another was arrested following a stabbing Friday inside Harding High School in St. Paul, a shocking first homicide of the year for the city that sent the school into lockdown for nearly two hours before an early dismissal.

St. Paul police Sgt. Mike Ernster said police responded at 11:46 am. to the high school at 1540 6th St. E. in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood, where they found staff members performing first aid on a juvenile with apparent stab wounds. Paramedics took the boy to Regions Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A suspect was found by officers on the scene and arrested.

The victim was a 15-year-old boy, and the suspect is a 16-year-old boy. Both are Harding students, Ernster said. While a motive was still unclear and police released no details of the incident, Ernster said they don't believe other victims or suspects were involved.

"We're still working through the facts ourselves and interviewing witnesses to this incident," he said.

St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry, Mayor Melvin Carter and Superintendent Joe Gothard "have been in constant communication this afternoon, and that contact will remain intact as we all work through this terrible incident," Ernster said. "We want nothing but the safest environment for any student that goes to school in St. Paul."

Carter called the stabbing "sad and infuriating" in a statement posted to Twitter.

"There are no words to describe or ease this pain," Carter's statement read. "The tragedies we have endured — especially over the last month — make it clear that there is no such thing as 'safe enough' where our young people are concerned. We all deserve better."

Students were sent home for the day at 1:20 p.m., St. Paul Public Schools spokesman Ryan Stanzel said. Evening activities and weekend events were canceled, and Gothard announced Friday evening in a video message that classes would be canceled for students on Monday.

"My plea to our entire community right now is, we are not OK," Gothard said in the video. "Our kids are not OK ... our kids are hurting, our staff are struggling to support them, and this is a time once again to come together, to work together to make sure we're supporting everyone."

Ernster said it's unclear if police will be stationed at the school when students return, directing the question to the school district.

St. Paul Public Schools cut ties with school resource officers, also known as SROs, in 2020 as part of the fallout that followed George Floyd's murder by Minneapolis police. They were replaced with 38 school liaisons who are not armed but carry pepper spray and handcuffs.

On Friday afternoon, dozens of students streamed out of the school where a row of squad cars were lined up as a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter hovered overhead. Several cars filled with parents picking up their children also waited outside.

Among the parents were Tish Tensley and Felicia Henderson . Henderson, whose daughter is a Harding freshman, said she happened to drive by when she saw a large police presence.

"I got scared, I didn't know what was happening so I just stopped. There's been a lot going on at the school so it scared me," she said.

Tensley said she received a phone call from her daughter, a sophomore, saying she needed to be picked up immediately.

"She was real shaken in her voice and I said, 'What happened?' She said someone had been stabbed and they're on lockdown," Tensley said. "I told her that she needed to stay calm and that she needed to sit tight because if she's on lockdown then there's no way that I could get her out."

The fatality comes less than a month after a 15-year-old was arrested with a handgun at the school, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. No one was hurt at that time.

In a social media posting, Ward 7 St. Paul City Councilmember Jane Prince expressed "my profound distress and my deep condolences related to the tragic death of a student at Harding High School earlier today."

In a message to teachers at Harding, Prince wrote: "Please know that I am at the ready to engage with both of you and our colleagues on the board of education and city council as we seek to restore confidence in the safety and security of students, staff and faculty at Harding."

Henderson and Tensley both said the death comes amid heightened concerns for their students' safety. Tensley said her daughter was threatened with violence by a Harding classmate Thursday for cheering for her brother, who was playing for Johnson High School at a game between the schools. Two weeks ago, she said, a group of boys physically assaulted a girl just outside the school's entrance, sparking a brawl of dozens of young people while parents frantically tried to load their kids into their cars.

"There was no police presence at the time," Henderson said. "There was just kids fighting."

Henderson said trouble at the school has escalated in recent years. Another daughter who graduated in 2018 rarely encountered problems.

"It wasn't always like this," she said.

Tensley and Henderson, who both work in the wellness industry, said that more violence can be avoided by providing community support and healing resources like yoga, reflexology or just open conversations that help young people express their frustrations.

"As parents we can say it's the school, but we can only put so much on the school," Tensley said. "We have a responsibility for our community, for our people as well."

Star Tribune staff writer Anthony Lonetree contributed to this report.