Students at Stagg High School in Stockton, California — West of Oakland — are mourning the loss of a 15-year-old star softball catcher. The student stabbing was inflicted by an intruder who walked onto school grounds through open gates and took her life. There has been no connection found between the girl and her killer making this senseless act of murder all the more terrifying.
Aliycia Reynaga was known as a softball star. Her father noted how, “Everybody here, we loved this girl more than anyone in the world.” He spoke of her abilities and potential to be a Division 1 softball champion, how good of a kid she was, and that she didn’t have enemies. Her death has come as a tremendous shock to her family and her classmates. A vigil was held for her last night where students could come together to help each other cope with the loss. Her softball coach, Lia Medrazo spoke of how the team is missing Aliycia, whom they called Lala. She also mentioned, “I’ll always have that empty space in my heart.” As family, friends, and other school members come to terms with the killing, many are now questioning the school’s safety standards after the student stabbing.
Alycia was killed in the school’s own parking lot. The man responsible is 52-year-old Anthony Gray. He drove onto campus in a rage and attacked the student before he stabbed her. School authorities alerted the police but they were unable to save the high school freshman. Law officials have stated that Alycia seems to have been targeted, yet the reason is unclear.
A questionable detail pertains to the school itself. The campus gate was left open, allowing Gray to easily attack. One student admitted in an interview with local news that “they’re never closed.” Knowing that the security gates could have deterred, or at least slowed, Gray’s attack and given Aliycia time to reach safety may leave the school liable for some fault in this tragedy. Especially as school violence continues to rise amid a growing mental health crisis and a systematic push from the Biden administration to promote divisive politics that are driving people to judge each other based on their identity alone. In truth, most school violence is usually committed by students, or even sometimes a staff member, because of popular closed campus policies which block outside threats from being able to harm children. By leaving students vulnerable, Stagg High School was unable to protect one of its own students from being stabbed and tragically killed.
The school’s superintendent is currently reviewing security protocols, and Aliycia’s softball team has canceled their practices and game for this week following the student stabbing. Meanwhile, the suspect involved in the student stabbing is being held without bail. He gave himself up to the police without a struggle and it is unknown if he is seeking legal representation.
The district has sent out a team of counselors to help students and staff at the school cope with Aliyca’s death. Other schools throughout the district will be receiving additional support for students who struggle with this act of violence on school grounds. Classes have resumed, but there is no telling how students will find a new sense of security after such a well-loved classmate was so easily stabbed to death on campus.