DC teen fatally stabbed in school fight after student bumped into another

The victim, who has been identified as Kemon Payne, was involved in a fight following the bumping incident.

A 15-year-old boy was fatally stabbed outside of his Washington D.C. high school Wednesday as his father waited to pick him up — all after one student bumped into another.

Police said the victim, who has been identified as Kemon Payne, was involved in a fight following the bumping incident. A 16-year-old student stabbed him twice in the chest, and the freshman later died at an area hospital. 

KIPP DC College Preparatory freshman Kemon Payne was stabbed twice in the chest on the third day of school, and the 15-year-old later died at a Washington D.C. hospital. (KIPP DC)

KIPP DC College Preparatory was closed on Thursday, one day after the incident. “We have been in touch with the student’s family and will continue to provide support to them,” Principal Stephanie Renee Young wrote in a letter to families. “The sudden passing of a student is devastating for all of us.”

The suspect in the stabbing incident has been charged as a juvenile, and thus his name has been withheld. According to a lawyer for the suspect, he had been assaulted by Payne and his friends four times in the previous two years.

According to The Washington PostDetective Konrad Olszak testified at the suspect’s initial hearing that a friend of Payne’s bumped into the suspect. “The kid that bumped him said, ‘Watch out, bro,’” Olszak told the court. The 16-year-old replied, “What do you mean? You bumped me,” and the other teen said, “What are you going to do about it?”

The detective said the suspect admitted to him that he regularly carried a knife to school, hiding it outside of the building and retrieving it daily before he walked home. Olszak said the boy got the knife and went back to the front of the school, where a fight had broken out between the teen who’d bumped the suspect and one of the suspect’s friends. As the suspect approached the fight, Payne stepped in his path.

According to testimony, Payne told the suspect, “I wish you would. You know what’s going to happen.”

The two then began to fight, and the suspect said he put his head down and swung at Payne while holding the knife. He claimed he wanted to “get [Kemon] off of him. … He said he felt some punches.”

Witnesses told authorities the older teen then ran, shouting, “I told you I was going to get you.” Payne reportedly staggered, crying, “He stabbed me. He stabbed me,” before he collapsed. 

The incident happened on the third day of school.

For the D.C. community overall, Payne’s death highlights the trauma that young people in many urban communities are managing, and much of that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“During the pandemic, a lot of these young people have experienced loss of caretakers, domestic violence,” Jay Brown, who runs a nonprofit organization called Community Shoulders, told NBC 4. “They have also had inter-community violence that they had to deal with,” 

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee offered his “deepest condolences to both families involved in this situation because whether you are the perpetrator of the crime or the deceased person, in this case, it’s sad. Period. Because this is something that did not have to happen.” 

“I’m sure that whatever the underlying issue is,” he said, “it’s not going to be something that a kid, a 15-year-old kid, should’ve lost his life over.”

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