The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

October 25, 2013

Student: Accused teen stayed after school

(Continued)

“It’s just terrifying,” she said. “I know a lot of people don’t want to go back to school at this point.”

Classes were expected to resume Friday.

Authorities offered no clues Thursday on Chism’s alleged motive. They also would not say how Ritzer was killed.

Carrie Kimball-Monahan, a spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said the case was still being investigated.

Chism had moved to Massachusetts from Tennessee before the start of the school year and was a top scorer on the school’s junior varsity soccer team.

Jean McCartin, a Danvers School Committee member, said the school has extensive programs to help ease the transition for new students who may have problems but there was no information about Chism that would have presented any red flags.

“He just presented himself to us like any other student would,” she said Thursday. “And that’s what I think is so hard for the administration right now. You know, their hearts are breaking because they just didn’t know he was in need, if he was in need. ... No one knows why he would have behaved in this way and done such a terrible thing.”

Students were also puzzled. Chism’s teammates on the soccer team have said he was soft-spoken and nonviolent.

Rhaddaoui said Chism was quiet, and she never saw him raise his hand in math class. She said they were also in the same history class, where he told classmates he spoke three languages: English, Portuguese and Japanese.

Ritzer was described as an enthusiastic, caring teacher who stood outside her classroom and said hello to all students, whether they were in her classes or not.

“She was very approachable,” Rhaddaoui said. “She was always smiling. She always made the best of every situation.”

Ritzer’s family released a statement Thursday, asking the media to respect their privacy as they make arrangements “to celebrate Colleen’s vibrant life.”

Chism appeared briefly in court Wednesday for arraignment on a murder charge and was ordered held without bail.

Ritzer was the second teacher allegedly killed by a student in the U.S. this week. A Sparks, Nev., middle school teacher was shot Monday, allegedly by a 12-year-old student.

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