Detectives release details on school resource officer stabbing

6:36 AM, Apr 8, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Investigators: Teen stabbing suspect led officer into bathro

Facebook picture of school stabbing suspect Kenneth Stoltman.

Largo, Florida - Investigators with the Pinellas Sheriff's Office and the school district's police force on Thursday afternoon released new details of the stabbing at Carwise Middle School.

Kenny Stoltman, 13, is accused stabbing school resource officer Kenneth Fridlund, 55, in one of the school's restrooms Tuesday morning.

School Police Chief Tom Gavin gave a dramatic description of the stabbing at Thursday's news conference.

The events began when a teacher noticed that Stoltman smelled strongly of gasoline and he was sent to the restroom to wash up. That teacher alerted  school administrators and Fridlund went to question Stoltman about the gas smell.

Fridlund found the 7th grader in the hallway near the restroom and that's when Gavin says Stoltman lured the officer into the bathroom and attacked.

"He says, 'Officer, come here, I want to show you something,' or something to that effect," says Gavin. As Officer Fridlund followed the boy into the restroom, Gavin says the student lunged at him with a 4" blade knife and stabbed Fridlund in the abdomen. "This was not a pocket knife, this was not a butter knife; this was a serious knife," says Gavin.

Officer Fridlund was also stabbed in the shoulder and as the two struggled on the floor, Gavin says Stoltman tried to grab the officer's gun. "All this time Kenny's (Officer Fridlund) on the floor and he's bleeding. He's in pain, a great deal of pain."

School staff members came to help. One person lay on the student's legs to subdue him, while others handcuffed the teen. Then they tried to render aid to the wounded officer.

"There's blood on the floor. They open his uniform shirt, they move his vest--he's wearing a ballistic vest. They're trying to put direct pressure on his wound and all this time Kenny Fridlund won't let go of the suspect," describes Gavin. "In my mind Kenny Fridlund's a hero."

Later, investigators found 11 bottles of gasoline in Stoltman's duffle bag. He told detectives that he wasn't going to hurt anyone, but use the bottles to scare kids that had been bullying him.

Classmates say Stoltman was often teased about wearing his Boy Scout uniform to school, although investigators say school administrators and staff saw no evidence of that.

However, Stoltman's Scoutmaster tells 10 News that he'd heard about the bullying and that his own son also experienced it. John Ruckart also painted a much different picture of Stoltman. He says the teen was liked in the troop and was a role model for other kids.

After life-saving emergency surgery, Fridlund is recovering at St. Joseph's Hospital and according to Gavin anxious to return to work.

Stoltman is at a local hospital undergoing a mental evaluation. It's expected he'll be charged with attempted murder and possession of fire bombs.

 

The Sheriff's Office says this is how the stabbing happened:

According to the victim and witnesses, Kenneth Stoltman came to school with a duffle bag containing eleven 12 oz. glass bottles filled with gasoline. 

He at first went to his classroom, where his teacher noticed the strong odor of gas.  Stoltman told the teacher he accidentally spilled some gas on himself at home, and he requested permission to use the restroom to clean up.

He then took the duffle bag with the gas-filled bottles into the boys' restroom and hid them inside a bathroom stall. While he was in the bathroom, the teacher alerted other school staff over the radio about the suspect and strong odor of gasoline.

Officer Fridlund heard the alert and responded to the bathroom.  As Fridlund approached the bathroom, Stoltman exited and started walking back to class. 

When Stoltman was met by Officer Fridlund and school staff,  Stoltman asked Fridlund to follow him back to the bathroom.

Deputies say just before they went inside the restroom, Stoltman swung around suddenly and stabbed Fridlund in the abdomen. 

Before Fridlund had a chance to react, Stoltman then swung the knife over his head and tried to stab the officer's chest.  Fridlund was able to deflect the knife and was stabbed in the shoulder.

As Officer Fridlund fell to the ground in the hallway, Stoltman got on top of him and stabbed him again in the arm. Fridlund was able to pepper spray Stoltman, but it did not stop the attack. 

Stoltman then allegedly grabbed for the officer's gun and tried pulling it from the holster. Fighting for his life, Fridlund yelled to school staff that Stoltman was trying to get his gun. Staff members were able to subdue Stoltman, ending the attack.

The authorities' account of events differs from that given by the boy's grandmother, who claimed the officer was stabbed accidentally while scuffling with him.

Investigators say the officer's injuries are now known to be more serious than previously thought, including internal injuries. Fridlund had to undergo emergency surgery to stop internal bleeding, and remains in the hospital recovering from his injuries.

Stoltman told detectives he only intended to use the gas-filled bottles to scare other students who were bullying him, and he never planned an attack or had a list of students to be hurt.

Classmates tell 10 News Stoltman was teased almost every day, because he often wore his Boy Scout uniform to school.

10 News and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

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