HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (PIX11) -- A teacher was attacked in her classroom at a Long Island middle school, strangled allegedly by a woman suspected of taking revenge on the educator for “putting her hands” on a teen earlier in the day, officials who are part of the case said.
Annika McKenzie, 34, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree strangulation and criminal obstruction of breathing in the attack that happened after lunch on Wednesday at Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School in Hempstead
The brawl was sparked allegedly by McKenzie’s suspicion that the teacher mistreated a 14-year-old student who is related to the suspect, officials said. McKenzie’s attorney said his client may have acted in fit of rage to defend the child.
“Teachers don’t have the right to put their hands on children,” said attorney Don Rollock, who is representing McKenzie.
Officials said it appears the teen was misbehaving in the hallway and was approached by a teacher. The student “was not happy” about being reprimanded then accused the teacher of touching her. The teacher targeted in the fight has not been charged with any crime.
That a visitor was able to get into the school at all, let alone with sinister intentions, is now under investigation, as well.
“It looked like there was a breach of security on the grounds,” Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association President Elias Mestizo said.
McKenzie allegedly breezed past the school’s main office and headed straight to a classroom to wait for the teacher’s return. When the teacher arrived, the pair talked about an incident earlier in the day involving a 14-year-old relative of the suspect. Seconds later, the teacher was attacked, Mestizo said.
Officials said the educator was hit so hard she fell to the ground then put in a chokehold, causing her to “lose consciousness for a few minutes.” Mestizo said “one or two students” may have struck the teacher, as well.
Hearing the chaos, the victim’s colleagues came out of their classroom to break up the brawl.
The teacher, who has not been identified, has been working at the school for some 20 years, officials said. She was taken to a hospital, treated for her injuries and is home recovering.
PIX11 News' Keith Lopez contributed to this report.