‘I just snapped’
BULLIED STUDENT SAYS HE DIDN’T MEAN TO KILL CLASSMATE
THE ACCUSED teen killer calls it a case of murder by mistake.
Jailed homicide suspect Abel Cedeno claims he brought a twoweek old switchblade to school strictly for self-defense, with no thought of carving up two classmates.
“I guess I just snapped,” Cedeno told the Daily News in a Rikers Island interview. “I didn’t mean to kill him. I wanted to scare him.”
The bisexual Bronx teen accused of fatally gutting classmate Matthew McCree, 15, insisted Friday that he never intended to plunge the serrated knife into his unarmed victim’s torso.
McCree’s best friend, 16-yearold Ariane Laboy, was stabbed in the chest Wednesday morning during a history class that turned into a bloodbath before horrified students and faculty.
Laboy remained hospitalized two days after the attack.
Cedeno, speaking at the jail where he was held without bail and under a suicide watch, insisted he was the victim of anti-gay bullying long before his angry explosion inside the East Tremont high school.
“They bully me because I’m different,” said Cedeno, 18, who was charged with murder and attempted murder in the Bronx classroom melee. “I’m not like the other guys. My voice is higher.”
The soft-spoken suspect chatted with a reporter in an emotionless tone about the verbal and occasionally physical abuse inflicted on him since middle school over his sexuality.
Fellow students called him a “f----t,” while angrier classmates slammed Cedeno into hallway lockers, he said.
Cedeno, who said he identifies as bisexual, wore a gray jumpsuit as he answered questions about the first slaying inside a city school since 1993.
At one point, he removed his glasses and wiped at his eyes.
The accused killer said he was unsure if the stabbing really happened after he walked into the school principal’s office and surrendered the knife.
“I was having a panic attack,” he said.
Cedeno, who bought the switchblade online about two weeks prior to the attack, insisted that he made the purchase “to protect myself.”
He was arrested without incident after stabbing McCree and Laboy at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, cops said.
On Friday, about half the student body stayed home rather than return to the scene of the crime.
Cedeno recounted a somewhat rootless life, bouncing between homes and a shelter in Queens and the Bronx and attending at least seven different schools over the years.
This was his fifth year at the wildlife-focused “Zoo School,” where he was repeating the 12th grade.
“Abel felt an isolation because all his closest friends had already graduated,” said a school math teacher Friday. “He was committed to the performing arts. Abel wanted to be an actor.”
Though classes only started on Sept. 7, Cedeno estimated he had already missed 10 days. His father is battling lung cancer, and his mom is trapped in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Family friends claim Cedeno was the target of ethnic and antigay slurs since the school year began three weeks ago. But police said neither of the youths stabbed Wednesday had any prior beef with Cedeno.
“I will hold their memory in my heart,” Cedeno said of McCree, who died shortly after the stabbing, and Laboy, who remained hospitalized.
Cedeno also acknowledged ignoring family members and other supporters who turned out for his Thursday arraignment in Bronx Criminal Court.
“I didn’t turn around to look at the people,” he said. “I feel like a failure.”
Mayor de Blasio and the City Council announced plans for Monday hearings on the bullying issue.
Statistics indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are twice as likely to be bullied in city schools as heterosexual kids.
The 2015 survey shows 24% of LGBTQ students were bullied on school property, compared with 13% of straight youth.
Roughly half of LGBTQ students had experienced depression, compared to about a quarter of their straight peers, the study indicated.
And despite Education Department moves to support LGBTQ students, including the hiring of a public liaison, more needs to be done, according to critics.
“Principals and teachers still feel unsupported in their efforts to combat bullying in their schools, especially as it relates to LGBT issues,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, head of its education committee.
Abel Cedeno, interviewed at Rikers Island Friday, tries to explain his vicious attack.