Grieving: Students wearing tuxedos and gowns gathered for a memorial service to honour their schoolfriend. Photo: Reuters
A 16-year-old American student was stabbed to death in a school stairwell, allegedly by a fellow student after she declined his invitation to the junior prom, local media reports say.
Maren Sanchez, an honours student at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Connecticut, outside New York, died of neck injuries at Bridgeport Hospital, police said.
A 16-year-old student was arrested by a school guard and later charged with murder as a juvenile offender.
A photo from Maren Sanchez's Facebook page.
The stabbing occurred about 7.15am on Friday as students crammed the hallways just before the start of classes, authorities said.
School staff members, including a librarian and a police officer assigned to the school, subdued the attacker and gave Ms Sanchez first aid. She was pronounced dead at Bridgeport Hospital less than a half-hour later.
Milford Police Chief Keith Mello said at a news conference that a school staff member witnessed part of the attack and tried to stop it. Others also joined in the effort, he said.
Students said that the attacker, after being spurned, allegedly tried to strangle the girl, then pushed her down the stairs before stabbing her in the throat, Connecticut News 12 reports.
The lawyer for the boy, Richard Meehan, said his client would probably be charged as an adult. Connecticut law allows authorities to try minors as adults for serious crimes, Mr Meehan said
The young man’s family was distraught, Mr Meehan said.
“They’re devastated not only for him but they’re devastated for Maren Sanchez’s family as well,” he said.
School officials postponed the prom. Instead, many students, some in tuxedos and gowns, gathered for tearful memorials on Friday evening. Friends posed by the sea, holding Ms Sanchez’s prom dress.
School officials described Ms Sanchez as a well-liked student and athlete.
School principal Fran Thompson emailed a note to students, saying she was informing them of Sanchez's death "with a heavy heart".
"Maren, a junior, was everything right with Jonathan Law. An honour student, active member of our school community and incredible young woman, her time with us was much too short but her spirit will be with us forever," the message said, according to the New Haven Register.
Milford Mayor Benjamin G. Blake said: "Our hearts go out to the family of Maren Sanchez ... and to those also affected by this tragedy."
Ms Sanchez posted a photo of herself in a new dress onto a Facebook page on March 3. She added a note: "Yay, So excited!"
USA Today/New York Times