CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — A 13-year-old is dead and four other boys are injured after they were stabbed during a fight Saturday night in Orange Park, according to Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook.
At around 7:30 p.m., two 13-year-old boys were at a home in the 1700 block of Debbie Lane without any adults present. One of the boys was the son of the homeowner.
At some point, four boys between 10-14 years old showed up outside the house "banging on the windows" and urging the boys inside to come outside and fight, Cook reported.
The boys inside called friends for backup. Shortly thereafter, three boys between 17-13 came to the house and a fight broke out between the two groups of boys, Cook said. In all, at least nine boys were involved in the fight.
At some point, one of the boys pulled a knife and began stabbing others. One of the boys inside the house also grabbed a knife and used it as a weapon as well, Cook said.
The first 911 calls were placed at around 8:25 p.m., according to Cook. Authorities arrived at the scene soon after.
First responders took five boys to the hospital with stab wounds. One of the boys died from his wounds Sunday morning, Cook said. Two of the five victims remain hospitalized and two others have been released.
One neighbor, who did not want to be identified, told First Coast News she believed the fight was the result of an ongoing dispute between the boys.
She also reported there was still blood visible on the sidewalk Sunday morning. She put a bucket on the sidewalk, telling her children not to pass the bucket as they would see the blood.
Sheriff's Cook called the whole situation "extremely sad" during a Sunday morning press conference. She said the neighborhood is a "quiet, safe" place to live.
"It's tough," Cook said Sunday. "It's the week of Thanksgiving. And instead of being thankful, we have a family of a 13-year-old child that's going to plan a burial."
The parents of all the participants that have been notified and are cooperating, Cook reported. Cook said they do not know where the homeowners were during the fight.
The neighbor that spoke to First Coast News said she was not passing judgment on the parents, calling the fight "stupid" and "unfortunate."
The cause of the fight is still under investigation, according to Cook. A member of the State Attorney's Office did respond to the scene, but it is unclear when, or if, any charges will be filed.
Cook said children who may be challenged to a similar fight should call 911 to prevent a tragic outcome.
"I wish these young men would have called 911 instead of their friends," Cook said. "Unfortunately, this morning, we have a dead child so if anyone feels like they are threatened in any way, please call us."
She also told people in all neighborhoods to stay vigilant, especially when it comes to children.
"That is a very safe neighborhood, and unfortunately, we had this very tragic incident," Cook said. "I would just ask citizens to stay vigilant. Know where your kids are at, know who they're with, know what they are doing, and if you see anything suspicious, please give us a call."
The sheriff's office is still searching to see if more boys were involved in the fight. Anyone with information is urged to call the Clay County Sheriff's Office at (904) 264-6512.