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Bouquets of flowers seen left at the main gate of River Valley High School in Singapore on July 25, 2021. — TODAY pic
Bouquets of flowers seen left at the main gate of River Valley High School in Singapore on July 25, 2021. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, July 27 — A 16-year-old student of River Valley High School charged with murdering a 13-year-old schoolmate last week had asked two groups of students to call the police after he carried out the alleged act, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing revealed today.

In a ministerial statement to Parliament on the incident, Chan gave an account of what happened at the school in Boon Lay last Monday.

At about 11.35am that day, towards the end of lunch break, a group of students saw a 16-year-old student outside a toilet at the school. 

He was holding an axe and asked them to call the police.

The students returned to their classroom and told their teacher about this immediately.

The 16-year-old later made the same request to another group of students in the classroom next to the toilet.

In response, this group of students applied the emergency “run, hide, tell” lockdown drill: They went back to their classroom, locked the doors from within and quickly called their form teachers for help.

A teacher who arrived at the scene instructed the 16-year-old to put down the axe. He complied and was escorted to a meeting room.

“Thereafter, other teachers called the police and checked the toilet,” Chan said.

The police arrived within 10 minutes of receiving the call for help and took the 16-year-old student into custody.

Police officers and paramedics from the Singapore Civil Defence Force found the 13-year-old student motionless in the toilet with many wounds. He was pronounced dead.

The authorities said previously that based on early investigations, the two students did not know each other before the incident and the axe was bought online.

The 16-year-old student was charged with murder last Tuesday. He has since been held on remand for psychiatric assessment and will return to court on Aug 10.

Under the Children and Young Persons Act, which covers young persons under 18, neither of the boys can be named.

Chan said that once the situation was under control, the principal of River Valley High School Teo Khin Hiang broke the news to the rest of her staff, before speaking to students. 

“She shared that a serious incident had happened and asked all students to contact their parents to assure them that they were safe,” he added.

Teo then spoke separately to the group of students most affected by the incident.

Other teachers also came together to offer help, said Chan.

Some students later assisted in police interviews with parental consent. A teacher accompanied every student throughout the process. 

Other parents were told via the Ministry of Education’s Parents Gateway portal that a serious incident had happened in school. 

This was so that they could look out for their children once they were dismissed from school that day, Chan said.

The students were dismissed progressively from 3.15pm, with teachers stationed at various gates to assure students and parents.

“By the same evening, parents were informed that a member of the River Valley family had passed away,” Chan said. 

“The school advised parents to monitor the well-being of their child. Parents who were worried for their child’s well-being were encouraged to contact their form teachers to work out ways to support their children, both at home and in school.” — TODAY

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