Death at River Valley High School: A timeline of a suspected murder that shook Singapore

A 16-year-old Secondary 4 student of River Valley High School has been arrested for allegedly killing a 13-year-old boy, who was a Secondary 1 student. — TODAY pic
A 16-year-old Secondary 4 student of River Valley High School has been arrested for allegedly killing a 13-year-old boy, who was a Secondary 1 student. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, July 20 — Students at River Valley High School in Boon Lay had their daily routine disrupted yesterday when they were told to urgently return to their classrooms around lunchtime.

For at least five hours, parents of the school’s students were left in the dark as police cars and an ambulance entered the school compound, while media reports first emerged that a student had purportedly been killed on campus and later, that the incident allegedly involved a 16-year-old boy and another male student, 13. 

The police eventually said in a statement at around 5.20pm that they had arrested a 16-year-old for the murder of a 13-year-old boy and seized an axe as part of the investigation.

The following is a timeline of how the incident unfolded.

11.40am: The police receive a call for assistance from River Valley High School, located at 6 Boon Lay Avenue. Upon arrival, officers find a 13-year-old boy lying motionless with multiple wounds, at a toilet in the school. The boy is pronounced dead at the scene by a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) paramedic.

12pm: Police, including a crime scene investigation van and an ambulance are seen at the school compound.

Around 1.30pm: Teachers inform students to return to their classrooms, regardless of what lessons they have after lunch.

Around 2.20pm: Media reports surface that a student had been allegedly attacked and killed by another student.

3:20pm: TODAY arrives at the school and sees several police cars and police officers at the scene. Fifteen cars, some belonging to parents, are also spotted near the back gate of the school. 

Parents say that they had not received an update from the school, but rushed down after getting phone text messages from their children and reading media reports. 

3.30pm: Students start to leave the school compound, after being kept indoors for their safety after the incident, TODAY understands. They are ushered by school staff members and not allowed to speak to the media.

Around 3.45pm: Some parents who check the school’s parents’ portal see an update that a “serious incident” involving a Sec 1 boy had taken place that morning. The school says that a Sec 4 male student is assisting police in investigations. The school also urges parents not to speculate on the incident or post anything on social media.

4:30pm: Education Minister Chan Chun Sing says in a Facebook post that he was shocked to receive news of the “tragic incident” at the school. He adds that the Ministry of Education (MOE) is working with the police on the investigations and is also rendering support to students and staff members at the school.

5:19pm: The police issue a statement saying that they have arrested a 16-year-old Sec 4 student for the alleged murder of another Sec 1 boy. Preliminary investigations show that the two teenagers involved did not know each other. An axe is seized for investigations.

5.23 pm: MOE and River Valley High School say in a joint statement that they are “deeply saddened” by the loss of one of its students. They add that they are unable to comment further due to ongoing investigations.

5.30pm: Chan arrives at the school.

6pm: A few more parents show up at the school. One parent tells TODAY that she was informed by teachers to arrive around then because the police needed a few hours to conduct interviews with students of the alleged assailant’s class.

6.15pm: Several more students are released from school. 

6.30pm: Chan speaks to the media at the school.

7pm: Chan leaves the school. The police hearse leaves shortly after. — TODAY

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