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Was Penwood Stabbing Staged For YouTube?
Published: Sunday | May 5, 2013 28 Comments

Austin Burrell, former principal of Penwood High School. – Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer
Austin Burrell – who served as principal of Penwood High School for just over 13 years until his sudden departure – has charged that the incident three weeks ago which resulted in the death of 16-year-old Nario ‘Two Face’ Coleman at the school was an attempt to create a post for the widely popular video-sharing website YouTube.

Burrell made the claim during an interview with The Sunday Gleaner last week, hours after the Ministry of Education confirmed his sudden resignation.

“My investigation has shown that the incident was staged for YouTube to replace the Gangnam Style and Harlem Shake which had been posted by several schools,” said Burrell.

“The victim was followed and beaten up at least three times, and it was only after the main accuser was found to have sustained a stab wound that he (the attacker) went back to the victim and delivered what would be the fatal wounds,” said Burrell.

The veteran educator – whose hurried departure on pre-retirement leave last week was caused by threats via text message to his phone – said it would have been impossible for the school officials not to have heard the commotion had this been a usual fight.

“If you look at the video you will realise that that is not the normal reaction of students, especially in an inner-city school when there is a fight.

“They run towards the fight, and if that fight went on for six minutes it would be pandemonium. Students said they were told to ‘keep quiet and not to let Burrell hear’ because it was going on YouTube,” claimed Burrell.

Other videos of fight

He said in addition to the video which showed the fatal stabbing there are other videos of the incident which started as a fist fight.

“He fought back, but he was smaller than the boy beating him. I am satisfied that there was a deliberate attempt to keep the noise down. But there was no intention to kill the boy, based on investigation and information I received,” said Burrell.

He said blame levelled on the administrators of the school since the fatal stabbing was unfortunate, as efforts to reduce conflict have been successful at the institution which is based in Olympic Gardens.

“This tragedy is just unfortunate, and it’s not for lack of effort by the school administration,” he suggested.

Burrell said some public statements have been unfortunate and irresponsible as they give the impression that school officials were tardy in responding to the incident.

Burrell said in the school’s 48-year history it was the first murder that was recorded at the school, despite its presence in an area that records a high number of murders each year.

He noted that this was the third stabbing incident during his more than 13-year tenure at the school, and argued that it was unfortunate that the entire school, staff and principal were discredited by the incident.


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