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Accused Bronx School Stabber Endured Racist and Anti-Gay Slurs, Family Says

By  Kate Pastor and Aidan Gardiner | September 28, 2017 12:57pm 

 Abel Cedeno stabbed two of his classmates because they were bullying him, friends said.
Abel Cedeno stabbed two of his classmates because they were bullying him, friends said.
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Instagram/Abel Cedeno

THE BRONX — Before a high schooler stabbed two of his classmates, killing one of them during their Wednesday morning history class, he had been tormented by others at the school with racial and homophobic taunts of "f----t" and "sp-c," family members said.

Abel Cedeno, 18, who was arraigned Thursday morning for the murder of Matthew McCree, 15, and the attempted murder of a 16-year-old boy, was picked on frequently at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in West Farms, said Savannah Hornback, a spokeswoman for his family.

"This was a case of extreme bullying and taunting of the suspect [...] over the suspect's perceived sexual orientation," Hornback said.

Cedeno's family claimed they alerted a school guidance counselor about the "extreme bullying," Hornback said, but it wasn't immediately clear if they notified a counselor at Urban Assembly or staff at another school where he'd also faced bullying.

The family believes staff at his current school were aware of Cedeno's bullies and did nothing to stop them.

"With no reaction from the school, Abel felt no other way out," Hornback said.

While police acknowledged that Cedeno felt harassed, they said he never reported the bullying to administrators.

"He did not reach out to anybody at the school," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. "He had problems before, but not with these two individuals."

Boyce said Wednesday that the two victims had been throwing pencils at Cedeno about 10:40 a.m. when he pulled out a knife he bought on Amazon two weeks earlier and stabbed them both in the chest.

McCree was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital. The other boy, also slashed in the left arm multiple times, was treated for life-threatening injuries, police said.

Police walk Abel Cedeno in handcuffs to a waiting car. (DNAinfo/Kate Pastor)

Cedeno walked out of the classroom where he stabbed the boys, handed his Schrade switchblade to a counselor in the hallway and walked to the assistant principal's office to wait for police, officials said.

The young man confessed to investigators that he bought the knife and stabbed the boys, prosecutors said. He was charged with murder, attempted murder and a slew of other charges.

He was arraigned before Judge Patsy Gouldborne about 11:15 a.m. Thursday. She issued an order of protection against him, barring him from contacting the boy who survived the attack.

Gouldborne asked if he comprehended the order, to which Cedeno meekly replied, "Yes, your honor. I understand."

His attorney, Deborah Rush, asked for Cedeno to be psychologically evalulated and to have him on suicide watch.

Department of Education officials didn't immediately return a request for comment.

Cedeno had sent videos to friends showing himself flicking open the murder weapon's three-inch blade, which sprung from a four-inch handle, friends said.

"Why do you n----s think, I'm a p---y?" Cedeno said in a video a friend showed DNAinfo New York.

(Teamsters Local 237)

"He likes Nicki Minaj. He'd wear stuff from H&M. He likes Kylie Jenner, that sort of stuff. He would be in the hallways. They would bother him in the hallways, talk crap to him," said Asia Jones, 18, a friend of Cedeno.

"He usually gets bullied a lot," Jones added.

Cedeno was visibly despondent recently, family friends said.

"He was always sad, looking down," said friend and neighbor Jay Lopez, 27.

Family of one of the victims, McCree, took issue with Cedeno's account of the bullying. 

"They're trying to make it seem like he didn't like gay people. That's wrong," said McCree's stepfather, Kyle Victor, 34.

"You need to ask the right questions first, before they paint people, making it look like some mean person," Victor added.

McCree was a playful, loving teen, his stepfather said.

"He was very loving. [...] A 15-year-old [has] emotions and hormones running around, but he's in no way bad," Victor said.

The suspect's family extended their condolences to relatives of his victims.

"It's been tragic for everyone that's been involved," Hornback said.