NEW YORK – An afterschool fight between two high schoolers on a street near Manhattan's Theater District escalated to a violent stabbing Wednesday that left four boys slashed.
The suspect, a 16-year-old in a red hat, fled the scene and police were searching for him, said Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. The fight broke out between two teenage boys who had been suspended last week; it was their first day back to school, and they met outside to fight after dismissal, Boyce said.
The school is around the corner from the new Broadway production of "Groundhog Day," as well as the revival of "Cats."
As the 16-year-old beat the 15-year-old, three others jumped in and they were all stabbed, authorities said. The 15-year-old suffered the most serious injuries, with wounds to his back, and he was in surgery, Boyce said. A second 16-year-old boy was stabbed in the stomach, a 17-year-old boy was slashed on his ear and an 18-year-old was wounded in the arm. Authorities say they suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Sherri Hodes, who lives on the same block as the school, told The Associated Press she saw the fight as she was walking her border collie mix, Sophie, but she didn't realize at the time that anyone had been stabbed.
"One guy was punching another guy, and the other guy wasn't really punching back. He got him on the ground, and he was punching him and punching him," Hodes said. "They were screaming, and people were running. It was so fast and so much was happening. It was crazy."
Hodes said she often sees fights among students at the school.
"They fight all the time. I mean, that's what kids do. That's what teenagers do," she said.
Boyce said it's not clear what prompted the fight or the brawl last week that led to their suspension. He said it didn't appear to be gang-related, but it was under investigation.
A knife was recovered in a backpack near the scene.
The school, Public School 35, has 306 students from first to 12th grades and includes special education.
A spokeswoman for the city's Department of Education said it was working closely with police.
"The safety of students and staff is our top priority," the spokeswoman said.