Fatal stabbing inside Fitzgerald High School: Here's what we know

Tanaya Lewis facing first-degree murder charge

Danyna Gibson (left), Tanaya Lewis (right).
Danyna Gibson (left), Tanaya Lewis (right).

WARREN, Mich. – A student allegedly brought a kitchen knife to Fitzgerald High School in Warren Wednesday morning and stabbed a classmate to death during economics class; the violent incident happened in front of at least 20 other students and a teacher.

Tanaya Lewis, 17, is facing a first-degree premeditated murder charge in the death of 16-year-old Danyna Gibson. If convicted, Lewis could be incarcerated for life without any chance of parole.

Police believe the stabbing was over a boy.

Fatal stabbing inside classroom

Lewis is accused of approaching Gibson and pulling out a straight-edge kitchen knife, which she had brought from home, before stabbing Gibson two times in the upper chest. During the initial attack, Gibson was stabbed in the heart, according to police.

Police said Gibson attempted to flee and Lewis chased her around the classroom.

There were at least 20 other students in the classroom, and witnesses report that Lewis was smiling and laughing as she pursued Gibson.

Lewis allegedly stabbed Gibson one more time in the back, which is when Gibson fell to the floor and Lewis stabbed her again, this time puncturing her lung, according to police.

A teacher was able to push Lewis outside of the classroom.

"I'm going to kill her!"

Police said Lewis tried to get around the teacher and back to Gibson, while yelling, "I'm going to kill her."

"Our teacher heard screaming so she locked the door. And then we heard foot steps running toward our room. And then we saw five other people and they were trying to break the girls up. Then we heard a 17-year-old girl stabbed the other over a boy and that the wound was life threatening," said Raven Adams, a freshman at Warren Fitzgerald High School, who was in another classroom.

A school resource officer was alerted when he heard screams coming from the classroom.

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said the officer arrived in the classroom and used life-saving measures on Gibson within seconds of the attack.

Warren police hold news conference

Dwyer held a news conference just hours after the brutal murder took place:

"I am saddened to report that at approximately 8:30 a.m. today in a classroom at Fitzgerald High School an altercation occurred between two students. A 17-year-old female suspect, a Warren resident, produced a kitchen-style knife and stabbed a 16-year-old female victim, also a Warren resident and student, twice in the chest. We have a school resource officer assigned to Fitzgerald High School and he responded in seconds and imminently began CPR on the victim, continuing until the fire department arrived," said Dwyer.

Gibson was transported to St. John's Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 9:24 a.m. Her family was made aware of the incident and were present at the hospital.

Lewis was taken into custody at the scene, according to Dwyer.

Lewis and Gibson were straight-A students at the high school, and had not been in trouble before.

The weapon, a kitchen-style steak knife, was also recovered at the scene. No other students were physically injured during the attack.

"This is truly a tragedy, our prayers go out to the family of the victim," said Dwyer.

While police were still investigating, their initial assessment was that the attack was not random and that the students knew each other.

According to Dwyer the incident "appears to involve a male student, who is cooperating with the investigation."

Dwyer said the boy knew both girls and he is either 16 or 17 years old. It's possible that both girls had a romantic relationship with him, according to the commissioner. He was not sure if the male student was in the classroom at the time of the stabbing.

Witnesses said the attack was unprovoked.

A student posted to Facebook, "There was no argument that led up to this. Me and my classmates can agree that she was killed in cold blood for no other reason than being friends with a boy."

Dwyer would not comment on when the friendship between Gibson and Lewis started to breakdown, but he did say at one point they were friends. There were text messages between the two girls, but he would not comment on them.

Video: Warren police Commissioner Bill Dwyer holds press conference on the day of the stabbing

Fitzgerald High School shared this statement on Facebook:

"Our hearts are broken that we lost a student and member of our Fitzgerald Community today. We at Fitzgerald, are a family, and this is a time to reach out to each other. Fitzgerald High School will be closed on Thursday, Sept. 13. Mental health support staff will be available at the high school from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for any student, parent or staff member who needs assistance. We know that losing a fellow student is difficult and we encourage you to reach out if you need support.

We will be hosting a vigil to remember and honor the life of Danyna Gibson at 1 p.m. on the high school football field. Our Fitzgerald Community is#FitzNation strong and it’s important that we come together and support each other. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Danyna’s family, friends and classmates during this difficult time."

Vigil held for Danyna Gibson

Friends and family gathered Thursday afternoon at Fitzgerald High School to honor Gibson.

"I wanted the best for her," said Preston Gibson, her father. "She got all A's, was going to college. She was going to be a valedictorian."

Gibson had been a member of multiple clubs and organizations at the school such as cross country, robotics club, color guard, marching band, honor guard society, student council and Generation of Promise.

Hundreds gathered on the school's football field in the rain. People close to Gibson said they can't believe they won't see her again.

"We are taking it hard," said her cousin Kateria Burns. "This is shocking to us."

Lewis arraigned on a first-degree murder charge

An arraignment was held Friday afternoon where police went over what they believe happened during the attack.

She is facing a first-degree premeditated murder charge in the death of Gibson.

A pretrial date was set for Sept. 27.

A probable cause hearing was set for Oct. 4.

Witnesses could be called forward to testify during the probable cause hearing in order to prove the crime was committed.

"State of Michigan will be safer if she remains incarcerated," said Judge Suzanne L. Faunce.

Lewis is being held without bond.

Video: Full arraignment

Funeral arrangements

Visitation for Danyna Gibson will be held Tuesday from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. at the Hutchinson Funeral Home on East 7 Mile Road in Detroit.

The funeral will be held Wednesday at New St. Paul Missionary Church on Ascension Avenue in Warren. The service is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

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