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Student Stabbed to Death Near West 56th Street High School

By  Julie  Shapiro Aidan Gardiner and Murray Weiss | September 20, 2012 3:35pm | Updated on September 20, 2012 10:24pm

HELL'S KITCHEN — A student was stabbed to death outside his Hell's Kitchen high school Thursday afternoon in a brawl with students from a neighboring school, officials said.

Theodore Beckles, 19, a student at Independence High School, got into an argument about 2:40 p.m. with a student at the High School for Environmental Studies, near the building the two schools share at 444 W. 56th St., police and Department of Education officials said.

A group of friends of the Environmental Studies student joined the brawl — which had started as a fight between Beckles' pregnant girlfriend and another girl, police sources said — and one of the Environmental Studies students stabbed Beckles in the chest with a knife, police and the DOE said.

The teen, a Bronx resident, was taken to New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center in serious condition, officials said. He was later pronounced dead, police said.

"It looked pretty bad," said Rocio Aguilar, 16, a student at the High School for Environmental Studies. "It was a big gash in his stomach.... He had collapsed in the middle of the street."

A trail of blood could be seen along West 56th Street and on the curb where the victim fell.

"I saw a kid lying on the ground with his shirt off and bleeding," said David Scalza, who lives on the block. "I heard a lot of screaming.... He was hurting and twisting his legs."

Alberto, 73, who lives nearby, said in Spanish through a translator that he saw two boys fighting shortly before the stabbing. The boys then moved west along the block and were surrounded by a crowd of teenagers, Alberto said.

"I don't know where the knife came from," said Alberto, who did not give his last name. "I just saw them fist-fighting."

The NYPD was investigating and had not made any arrests as of Tuesday evening.

Independence High School is a transfer school for students who have previously struggled to graduate, according to InsideSchools.org. The High School for Environmental Studies has a science-focused, college-preparatory curriculum, with environmental seminars and field trips, according to the school's website.