A Hamilton mother who watched as her 14-year-old son was stabbed to death outside his high school on Monday afternoon said she tried to save him but “couldn’t get to him in time.”
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Shari-Ann Bracci-Selvey said her son Devan called her on the day he was killed to tell her that other students at the school had been bothering him.
She said she drove to Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School after receiving the call and that’s when her “life fell apart.”
“Everyone failed my son, even I did. I tried to save him and I couldn’t. I couldn’t get to him in time,” she said.
“I haven’t slept. I haven’t eaten. Every time I close my eyes, it is there. So I don’t close my eyes. If I don’t close my eyes I can’t relive it."
Police previously said the teen was attacked on school property in front of several witnesses. Investigators also said that the stabbing was recorded on video and officers are in possession of that footage.
In the hours that followed the attack, police identified a number of suspects in the case.
An 18-year-old male and a 14-year-old boy were subsequently charged with first-degree murder. Police allege that it was the 14-year-old suspect who actually wielded the knife.
The minor cannot be identified under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act and a publication ban prevents media from identifying the adult suspect.
Three other teens taken into custody following the fatal stabbing have since been released without charge. Police confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that they are not searching for any additional suspects.
'He didn't deserve this,' teen's mom says
The victim’s mother said her son had been bullied since the start of the school year, a situation she said she brought to the attention of staff at the school.
She said her son skipped classes as a result of the bullying.
“He’d go for some classes and then call and I’d go pick him up. Sometimes he just wouldn’t go, he refused to go in the mornings,” she said.
She added that while many schools boast a “zero-tolerance policy” when it comes to bullying, she said she doesn’t believe school administrators always follow through.
“No one is held accountable for it,” she said.
Bracci-Selvey described her son as a “very passionate kid” who loved animals.
She said Devan was excited to become an uncle after learning of his sister’s pregnancy.
“He is never going to grow up. He’s never going to get married. He’s never going know what it is like to be a father,” she said.
She said her son “protected everybody” and never hesitated to stick up for his friends when they were being picked on.
“He did not deserve this,” she said tearfully. “Why was I the only person that had his back?”
She encouraged people to “stop being bystanders” when they witness bullying.
“There is no such thing as rats anymore,” she said.
School board will conduct review
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board confirmed that the school was notified of bullying incidents involving the victim.
"We will be providing all of this information to police as part of their investigation," the statement read.
Manny Figueiredo, the director of education for the school board, said officials will conduct their own review into the circumstances that led to the fatal stabbing.
Figueiredo said the school board plans to review its 'Safe Schools' policy in the wake of the tragedy.
"We will at the right point review what has happened here. At the essence of bullying, it is what was reported and how did people respond. There is a whole range of what we provide in response in terms of preventative measures and in terms of interventions," he said.
"Until we do our own assessment, I would hate to make any kind of conclusion."
He added the school board contacts police in "severe" cases of bullying, but he would not specifically address any incidents involving the 14-year-old victim.
Speaking to members of the media on Wednesday afternoon, Hamilton police said they were notified in September of an incident involving the theft of the victim's bike.
The teen's mother told reporters earlier in the day that near the beginning of the school year, a group of suspects accosted her son and his friend and stole their bikes.
"At this time, I can tell you that there is no evidence linking the accused in this stabbing, this homicide, to the earlier September bike theft," Det.- Sgt. Steve Bereziuk told reporters.
He added that police are aware of the comments the victim's mother made regarding bullying at the school.
"We are going to continue to probe the bullying concerns," Bereziuk said, adding that the teen's mother was not able to meet with investigators on Wednesday.
"I’m sure she’ll reach out to me when the time is appropriate," he said. "I’m going to give her some space and we will move forward from there."