Monday, February 24, 2020
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Obituary: Valaree Schwab; stabbing in New Rochelle

Valaree Megan Schwab, an honor student, guitarist, outspoken political activist, proud owner of a red Camaro, which she bought herself after getting her learner’s permit, and student at New Rochelle High School in Westchester County, New York, died from stab wounds after a quarter-mile fight among fellow students along North Avenue in her hometown, Wednesday afternoon, January 10. She was 16.

Police have charged fellow New Rochelle student Z’inah Brown, 16, of Yonkers, with second-degree murder in connection with Valaree’s death. Brown turned herself in after “Wanted” posters were posted in the community. Police say she was one of five or six students who were bullying kids around Ms Schwab that afternoon. The end result of that fight was Valaree being stabbed twice in the torso with steak knives inside a Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant. She was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

A Funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Pelham, New York, on January 15, with arrangements being handled by Pelham Funeral Home. In addition, memorials have been put up in the community.

Her older brother, Christopher John, “CJ,” died in Boynton Beach, Florida, when Valaree was only 1 year old; she is survived by both her parents, another brother, and one sister.

In New Rochelle, police have added personnel to patrol around the school in this very tense community. “That kind of scares me, because I feel like it can happen anywhere,” quoted one freshman student at the school as saying about Valaree’s death.

Since last week, this school of about 3,400 students—Westchester County’s largest, with an art museum and a planetarium—has had to deal with two other stabbings after Valaree’s death last Wednesday. A 16-year-old boy was stabbed in a second-floor classroom this morning, allegedly by a 15-year-old student. The local CBS News affiliate reported that the stabber had himself been the victim of a stabbing in the community just a few days earlier.

Parents and school officials are on edge. “What’s the plan? What are you doing tomorrow morning so that I know when I drop off my daughter she’s going to be OK?” CBS quoted one parent as asking. “It was never like this,” quoted a recent graduate as saying. “Yeah, there’s fights after school, but it was never kids getting stabbed. It was never this serious.”

After Valaree’s death, the school district released the following statement:

The City School District of New Rochelle is saddened by the incident on North Avenue today in which a New Rochelle High School student was stabbed. The student was not in school today and the incident did not happen on school grounds. New Rochelle High School and School District officials are cooperating fully with the New Rochelle Police Department in this matter. The High School and District will make counselors, social workers and other professionals available for students and staff who require assistance for as long as is necessary. All other information about the incident should come from the New Rochelle Police Department.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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