Face­off in bronx class a ‘show’

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY LAURA DI­MON, ESHA RAY and LARRY McSHANE

THE BRONX class­room fell dead si­lent as the stu­dents stood toe to toe, all eyes riv­eted on the pair.

“It was like a show, like they were the two stars,” re­called wit­ness Frankie San­ti­ago, 16, about the blood-spat­ter­ing show­down. “And ev­ery­body was quiet, in­clud­ing the teach­ers.”

One day af­ter Abel Ce­deno’s ar­rest for the stab­bing mur­der of class­mate Matthew McCree, 15, the vic­tim’s fam­ily and friends, along with po­lice, said the slain youth had no prior beef with the man who killed him Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

NYPD Chief of De­tec­tives Robert Boyce said Thurs­day that the fatal con­fronta­tion be­tween Ce­deno, 18, McCree and stab­bing sur­vivor Ari­ane Laboy, 16, was the first be­tween the Ur­ban Assem­bly School for Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion stu­dents.

Ce­deno’s lawyer and fam­ily friends in­sisted his mur­der­ous rage was fu­eled by racist and gay­hat­ing slurs from fel­low stu­dents.

But McCree’s step­fa­ther Kyle Vic­tor, 34, said, “They’re try­ing to make it seem like Matthew was a mean per­son. Matthew was not that at all. They’re try­ing to make it look like he doesn’t like gay peo­ple. That’s wrong, too.”

Laboy and McCree were best friends, and Laboy was stabbed with a switch­blade af­ter leap­ing to his dy­ing buddy’s de­fense.

Ce­deno “said he had prob­lems be­fore at the start of school, but not with these two in­di­vid­u­als,” said Boyce. “He said he was be­ing ha­rassed, but that is all he said.”

His de­fense at­tor­neys made it clear there were mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stances in the fatal fight.

“We are cur­rently meet­ing with our client and his fam­ily and re­view­ing the facts and cir­cum­stances of this case, in­clud­ing the long his­tory of bul­ly­ing and in­tim­i­da­tion Abel has en­dured,” the Le­gal Aid So­ci­ety said in a state­ment.

The stab­bing was the first slaying in­side a city school since Fe­bru­ary 1993.

The abuse heaped upon Ce­deno had been re­ported to of­fi­cials at his Bronx high school with­out any re­sponse, said fam­ily friend Sa­van­nah Horn­beck be­fore the ac­cused killer’s Thurs­day ar­raign­ment.

“The kids were call­ing him a f---t, call­ing him” eth­nic slurs, said Horn­beck, 34. “Af­ter it had been re­ported nu­mer­ous times and there was no re­ac­tion from the

An­gel Jimenez (r.) was stabbed to death in a city school in 1993. His sis­ter An­gela (be­low) said Thurs­day of­fi­cials have not learned from that tragedy. Stu­dents (top left) re­turn to Bronx Wildlife school a day af­ter Wed­nes­day’s fatal bully en­counter found new metal de­tec­tor (left) and me­mo­rial (main photo). Abel Ce­deno (above) ad­mit­ted to stab­bing two class­mates, one fa­tally, pros­e­cu­tor said.

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