River Valley High School tragedy: Student seen holding axe, asking others to call police

A police car exits River Valley High School on July 19, 2021.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - On July 19 (Monday), a Sec 4 student at River Valley High School allegedly killed a Sec 1 student on campus.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (July 27), Education Minister Chan Chun Sing outlined the timeline of the incident, adding that not all details can be shared as the case is now before the Court.

11.35am

- Towards the end of lunch break, a group of students encounters a Sec 4 student outside a toilet. He is holding an axe and asks them to call the police. The students return to their classroom and inform their teacher.

- The Sec 4 student asks another group of students in the classroom next to the toilet to call the police. The students' immediate response is the emergency 'Run-Hide-Tell' lockdown drill - they go into their classroom, lock the doors and call their form teachers for help.

- A teacher arrives at the scene and tells the student to put down the axe. He complies and is escorted away to a meeting room. Other teachers call the police and check the toilet.

- About 10 minutes later, the police arrive and take the 16-year-old Sec 4 student into custody. Police officers and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) paramedics find a 13-year-old Sec 1 student lying motionless in the toilet with multiple wounds. They pronounce him dead.

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Sec 4 student arrested over death of Sec 1 boy at River Valley High School
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- Once the situation is under control, the principal breaks the news to the rest of the staff then speaks to the students. She tells them that a serious incident has happened and asks all students to contact their parents to tell them that they are safe.

- The principal then speaks to the group of students who are most affected by the incident. Parents are also informed via Parents Gateway - a communication app - that a serious incident has happened in school.

3.15pm

- The school begins to dismiss students and stations teachers at the school gates to speak to parents and students.

Evening

- Parents are informed that a student has died. The school asks parents to monitor the well-being of their child. Parents who are worried are encouraged to contact form teachers.

- Preliminary investigations by the police show that the two students had not known each other before the incident and that the axe was bought online.

July 20

- The 16-year-old student is charged in court with murder. He is now in remand for psychiatric assessment.

SINGAPORE HELPLINES

  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
  • Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
  • Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928
  • Shan You Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 6741-0078
  • Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service: www.eC2.sg
  • Tinkle Friend (for primary school children): 1800-2744-788

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.