BRONX, N.Y. — The mother of a 15-year-old boy who was stabbed to death by a classmate at his school spoke publicly for the first time Friday.
“My son Matthew McCree was not a bully,” Louna Dennis said, fighting back tears. “My son was loved.”
She remembered her son as a boy who loved school and had plans to attend Fordham University and play basketball. She said he would “beat a bully down” before being a bully himself.
Hours before her son was killed, Dennis said, he made breakfast for her because she was running late for work.
“My son was wonderful,” Dennis said while sobbing, “Now my son is never coming back to me.”
McCree and a 16-year-old boy were both stabbed in the chest Wednesday morning, about 30 minutes into their third-period history class at Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, police said.
McCree died from his injuries. The second student was critically wounded.
Their classmate Abel Cedeno, 18, was taken into custody in connection with the fatal stabbing.
Initially, police said the victims continuously bullied their attacker but later clarified to say the teens who were stabbed allegedly harassed Cedeno moments before the deadly altercation.
“He had problems before, at the start of school, but not with these two individuals,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said of the suspect.
Boyce said the victims allegedly threw pencils and papers at Cedeno. Students told PIX11 News the suspect was often the target of bullies.
“They pushed Abel too far. Abel was a kid who was made fun of in school. They pushed him too far,” one of Cedeno’s crying classmates said shortly after it happened.
Police said Cedeno brought a 3-inch switchblade to school the day of the stabbing. Detectives said he calmly walked out of the classroom, handed the knife to a school counselor and went willingly to the school office, where he sat and waited for police.
Cedeno allegedly told investigators he bought the switchblade online about two weeks ago “just to possess a knife,” Boyce said of the teen’s comments.
Cedeno faces a slew of charges, including murder, attempted murder and attempted manslaughter.
The teen’s mother is in Puerto Rico, likely trapped because of devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, so police have been interviewing his older brother, a man in his 20s, Boyce said.
Unlike other schools, the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation did not have screenings prior to the stabbing. Since the deadly encounter, metal detectors have been installed and students will be subject to random screenings.
Dennis and her Attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, say they’re not planning on pursuing any civil litigation against the Department of Education at this point, for now they’re focused on burying McCree and conducting their own investigation. Rubenstein says there are many questions that remain unanswered especially why the school didn’t have metal detectors, “ultimately there was a life taken and that should not have happened in our public schools.”
As for the school, the Department of Education released a statement saying, “A thorough investigation is underway and there are no signs of staff misconduct related to the tragedy this week. Additional school safety agents and guidance counselors have been assigned to the school to support the community, and students are being scanned during entry. The DOE and NYPD review data for each school and ensure they have the resources to keep students safe.”
PIX11’s Kelli O’Hara contributed to this report.