At around 7:40 a.m on Thursday, April 14, a School Safety Agent was rushed to the hospital after being stabbed behind the ear at PS 69 Journey Prep School on Thieriot Avenue.
According to authorities, Hector Garcia, the 57-year-old on-duty School Safety Agent, got stabbed behind his ear when he intervened to protect a female guidance counselor from an enraged ex-boyfriend who had arrived to assault her. Claudio Villar, 23, was confirmed to be the alleged suspect.
According to reports, the 36-year-old female guidance counselor was walking into P.S. 69 Journey Prep School when the suspect rushed in behind her. The suspect then began to harass and assault the guidance counselor.
A 40-year-old male teacher, Jaren Nash, was also wounded on the left arm being slashed by the knife wielded by the assailant, while the guidance counselor sustained a bump on the back of her head. The School Safety Agent and counselor were transported to Jacobi Medical Center in a stable condition.
Although the suspect fled the scene, Nash was able to give a detailed description of the suspect’s car. A responding officer saw the suspect’s vehicle and pulled him over on the other side of the school.
The New York City School Safety Coalition demanded that the mayor supply more School Safety Agents immediately. According to the coalition, 41 attacks on School Safety Agents have occurred this academic year alone, an increase from 30% the previous year, and they have requested additional assistance. The NYC School Safety Coalition issued a statement stating, “Many schools throughout New York City only have one school safety agent to protect an entire building of teachers, staff, and hundreds of students. At our press conference on Monday, April 11th, we called on Mayor Eric Adams to increase the number of School Safety Agents inside our school buildings, as well as increase the number of Neighborhood Coordination Officers and Youth Coordination Officers outside our schools. The shortage of School Safety Agents jeopardizes the safety of our children, teachers, and all school staff. We call on Mayor Adams to please protect our children and hire more school safety agents.”
In a press conference, Mayor Adams said, “That individual will be brought to justice. It is unacceptable. Violence in our school will not be accepted, and I want to thank our school agents, safety agents all over the city.”
The incident happened before students arrived Thursday morning, and no children witnessed the attack, according to the New York City Department of Education. The 23-year-old suspect faces assault, obstructing governmental administration, and criminal possession of a firearm on school grounds charges.
“If it wasn’t for former City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Comptroller Brad Lander’s decision to push the Mayor not to hire more School Safety Agents and cancel the class of 500 people, schools would have had more School Safety Agents on the scene and the outcome could have been different,” said Greg Floyd, President of Teamsters, Local 237.
“This recent incident highlights why we need to have a full contingent of School Safety Agents,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers. “We are down at least 2,000 safety agents from where we should be. Today, we are grateful to the teacher and School Safety Agent at PS 69 for stepping in to protect their colleague and thankful that no one was more seriously injured.”