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Singapore

Sec 4 student arrested over death of Sec 1 boy at River Valley High School

SINGAPORE: A Secondary 4 boy has been arrested and will be charged with murder over the death of a fellow student at River Valley High School. 

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said they received a call for assistance at 6 Boon Lay Avenue, where the school is located, at about 11.40am on Monday (Jul 19).  

Police officers found a Secondary 1 boy lying motionless, with multiple wounds, in a school toilet.

The 13-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic. An axe was seized by the police as a case exhibit.

"Preliminary investigations revealed that the two male teenagers are not known to each other. Notwithstanding the preliminary findings and the arrest of the teenager, the police are continuing their investigations into the motive for the assault," SPF said in a news release at 5.20pm.

The 16-year-old will be charged in court on Tuesday with murder. The police said they intend to seek an order from the court to remand him for psychiatric assessment.

READ: River Valley High death: Axe seized by police; suspect and victim 'not known to each other' 

Police vehicles are seen at River Valley High School on Jul 19, 2021. (Photo: Calvin Oh)
A Singapore Police Force CSI van is seen at River Valley High School on Jul 19, 2021. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

"The police will conduct a thorough investigation and the full facts will be established in court. Pending the court proceedings, the police would like to urge members of the public to refrain from speculating on the case out of respect for the family of the deceased," the news release said.

SUPPORT EXTENDED TO VICTIM'S FAMILY: MOE, SCHOOL

The Ministry of Education (MOE) and River Valley High said they were "deeply saddened" by the loss of one of their students and are extending their "fullest support to his family during this difficult time".

“The school has also reached out to students, parents and staff to provide counselling support and the necessary assistance to ensure their well-being,” they said in a joint statement.

Flowers are seen placed outside the back gate of River Valley High School on Jul 19, 2021. (Photo: Ang Hwee Min)

MOE and the school said they are unable to comment further as police investigations are ongoing.

“In this hour of grief, we urge the public to accord his family privacy and respect,” they added.

"TRAGIC INCIDENT"

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post earlier that a "tragic incident" had taken place at the school.

"We are all shocked to receive news of the tragic incident at River Valley High School this morning," said Mr Chan, whose post went up at 4.21pm.

"Our thoughts are with the families of the students concerned."

Mr Chan said that MOE is supporting the affected families, and the students and staff at the school.

"We are determined to work with parents and students to keep our schools safe and have our children grow up and learn together in a trusted environment," he wrote.

READ: Boon Lay community, counsellors ready to support River Valley High School: Desmond Lee

Mr Chan also assured students that they will be taken care of, and to reach out to an adult, teachers or school counsellors should they, or anyone they know, need help.

"You are never alone, and we will always stand ready to help you," he said.

In remarks made at the school at about 6.30pm on Monday, Mr Chan said that he had spoken to the principals, teachers and some students during his visit there.

He repeated the assurances he made in his earlier Facebook post, and appealed to members of the public to not to speculate on the reasons and to give the families affected some time, to respect their privacy.

He did not take questions from the media.

Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing arrives at River Valley High School on Jul 19, 2021. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

When CNA arrived at the scene at about 3.20pm, students were leaving the school campus via various exits, with teachers stationed at each one.

Police vehicles were seen coming and going, with a crime scene investigation van and various police cars parked on the campus grounds.

Students are seen leaving River Valley High School on Jul 19, 2021. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

One parent that CNA spoke to at about 3.45pm said she received a call from her daughter at noon. The woman was waiting for her daughter to be released from school at the bus stop opposite the main entrance.

The parent, who only wanted to be known as Mdm Chin, said her daughter was crying on the phone. 

Mdm Chin said her daughter, who is a Secondary 3 student, had asked to be picked up from school later and said something had happened.

When her mother asked her what was wrong, the student told her she was in a safe space with teachers around.

Another parent CNA spoke to who declined to be named said her daughter, who is in Secondary 4, said the students were already briefed about what happened but were instructed not to reveal any details about the incident.

A message posted to River Valley High School's parents’ portal on Jul 19, 2021.

At around 4pm, several parents were seen waiting outside the gates, and several of them were allowed to enter the school.

River Valley High has students aged between 12 and 18, and offers the six-year Integrated Programme. 

Source: CNA/lk/zl

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