Teen fatally stabbed in front of his mother was bullied, family says
TORONTO — A mother who watched her 14-year-old son be stabbed to death outside of his Hamilton, Ont. high school said bullying had been an ongoing issue.
Speaking with CTV News Toronto off-camera one day after her teenage son had died, Shari-Ann Sullivan Selvey said she was alerted to Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, located near Parkdale Avenue South and Main Street East, on Monday afternoon for a problem.
She said her son, Devan Selvey, had been bullied at the school for quite sometime, but did not go into any further detail on the matter.
She described her 14-year-old son as being a bit shy as he took time to open up to people.
A friend of Selvey told CTV News Toronto the teenager was “quiet and very giving.”
“He would share with people and he was nice to everyone,” Bobby Shoker said. “I feel sad because he was really close to me and we were close friends and he was really innocent.”
Two teens charged with first-degree murder
Two suspects, an 18-year-old male and a 14-year-old male, both from Hamilton, were taken into police custody after emergency crews were called to the high school around 1:30 p.m. for reports of a violent incident happening just outside.
The pair was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday morning as they appeared in court.
Sgt. Steve Berziuk said investigators are “satisfied based on evidence that there was some element of pre-planning and pre-meditation to this homicide” while speaking at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
At the news conference, Berziuk announced that two additional suspects had been arrested in the case.
One day later, Hamilton police said the pair was “released unconditionally.”
The identity of those facing charges in connection with the fatal stabbing cannot be released due to a publication ban and the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Victim’s mother ‘witnessed something horrible’
When emergency crews were called to the scene of the stabbing, Selvey’s mother was by his side.
The teenager was transported to hospital from the scene but succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
“She was just very upset,” a witness, who only identified herself as Alice, told CTV News Toronto. “She couldn’t stop crying. She had two people beside her, holding her because she was shaking, she was crying and crying.”
“Can you imagine a mother watching her son die on the sidewalk?”
Berziuk described the victim’s mother as being “distraught and devastated” in the aftermath of what had occurred.
“(The mother) witnessed something horrible here,” he told reporters.
Vigil to be held tonight
A candlelight vigil is scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening at the Hamilton high school.
An event page on Facebook said the gathering in Selvey’s honour will be a peaceful memorial and time of solidarity.
“Please leave any hate and negativity at home,” the description of the event said.
“We must come together at this time of grief as a community to show solidarity with the families and in support of all our children being bullied all over Canada.”
The organizer of the vigil, Kevin Ellis, said the gathering is meant to “strengthen our children to understand that violence is not the answer to anything in this world.”
“Devan, like a lot of kids, was bullied and silenced for a long time,” he said. “His mother did reach out for help and he was unable to find it.”
“Now, everyone is coming together, but it quite frankly is too late. We need to do something to make sure that Devan’s life is one that shows that a line was drawn in the sand after his death and the community has stepped forward and said ‘enough is enough.’”
The vigil is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.
Officers appeal for more information
While Berziuk said that officers have spoken with “dozens of witnesses,” they are continuing to ask anyone with further information to come forward.
Furthermore, investigators are continuing to look into the relationship between the accused and the victim, Berziuk said.
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board said it is fully cooperating with the investigation.
“One of the interventions we apply, when there is a case of bullying, is that we do reach out to police because each high school has a police liaison officer so when we feel that the bullying incident is severe enough we would reach out to the police so we continue to do that,” Manny Figueiredo, the school board’s director, told CP24 on Wednesday morning.
“In terms of this case, I am reluctant to speak now because that is evidence as part of the crime investigation.”
Figueiredo said his heart goes out to Selvey’s family at this difficult time.
“I have been hearing what Devan’s mother has been saying, and his step-father, around bullying and it really, across the province, all schools boards, have policies around that and we will, at the right point, review what has happened here because at the essence of bullying it is what was reported and how did people respond,” he said.
“There is a whole range of what we provide as response in terms of measures and in terms of interventions but at this point we are going to cooperate with police because some of our evidence will be the evidence in the crime investigation at this point.”
The school board plans to review its own “safe schools” policy in the wake of this tragedy, Figueiredo said.
“Until we do our own assessment, I would hate to make any kind of conclusion.”
Berziuk said “police will continue to work with Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School and the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.”
Investigators with Hamilton police are expected to provide an update into the case at 4 p.m.
Anyone with further information regarding the case is asked to contact investigators at 905-546-4123 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
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