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Suspect says bump in cafeteria started Houston-area school stabbing; authorities blame gangs

A 17-year-old charged with fatally stabbing a fellow Houston-area student told investigators the altercation began when he bumped a different student in the school cafeteria, according to a probable cause statement read in court Thursday.

But Harris County sheriff's investigators said later in the day that a rivalry between gangs appears to be the motive in the slaying Wednesday at a high school in suburban Spring.

Luis Alonzo Alfaro was charged with murder in the death of 17-year-old Joshua Devon Broussard at Spring High School. Alfaro, whose bond was set at $150,000, appeared in court briefly early Thursday, and details of his interview with detectives were disclosed. He asked for a court-appointed attorney.

Alfaro is to appear in court again Friday.

The sheriff's office did not elaborate on its statement about gangs and said no other charges are expected in the case.

Alfaro told investigators he bumped a male student with his shoulder while in the cafeteria and shoved him after the two exchanged words, according to the probable cause statement that a prosecutor read during a 2 a.m. hearing Thursday. Another student then punched Alfaro in the face, and Alfaro began punching him back.

Other students started to punch Alfaro and that's when he "pulled a folding pocket knife from his shorts and opened it ... covered his face with his left forearm and held the knife in his right hand," according to the statement.

Alfaro "swung the knife multiple times in a back and forth motion ... then fled the campus as the crowd began to disperse," the statement said.

Broussard's wounds to his abdomen area were consistent with a "sharp-edged instrument," and he collapsed and died in a hallway near the cafeteria, according to the statement. Authorities also said in the statement that numerous witnesses on the scene identified Alfaro as the person who stabbed Broussard.

Three other students wounded in the fight were treated at hospitals and released, authorities said Thursday.

Classes at Spring High School, about 20 miles north of Houston, were canceled until Monday. The school has more than 3,000 students.

The school district's police chief, Victor Mitchell, told reporters in a brief statement that security will be enhanced when classes resume.

About a dozen protesters showed up at district offices Thursday morning, demanding better security at the school. They were told to leave their names and phone numbers.

Texas Education Agency figures show the entire district, which has more than 40,000 students, reported 45 "incidents" with knives in the 2011-2012 school year, up from 37 the previous year. In 2006-2007, there were 23 such reports.

The state agency also listed 15 gang-related incidents of violence for last school year, down from 26 the previous year.

In another category identified as "fighting/mutual combat," the Texas Education Agency reported 1,250 incidents for the district in 2011-2012, down from 1,337 the previous school year. For the school year ending in 2006, the count was 1,394 in that category.

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Associated Press writer Juan Lozano contributed to this story.

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