Witnesses describe stabbing death of Palmetto Ridge student and history that led to it

Jorge Saavedra made his first appearance during a detention hearing with Collier Circuit Judge Lauren Brodie on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. Saavedra was charged with negligent manslaughter at the hearing. Allie Garza/Staff

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Jorge Saavedra made his first appearance during a detention hearing with Collier Circuit Judge Lauren Brodie on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. Saavedra was charged with negligent manslaughter at the hearing. Allie Garza/Staff

Students react to stabbing death

Students recall stabbing, tension on school bus

Jorge Saavedra

Jorge Saavedra

RAW VIDEO: Students exit bus after stabbing

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— Moises Gutierrez expected to see a fist fight when he exited his school bus on Monday.

He instead witnessed a knifing and the slow death of a close friend, he said.

“He was coughing up blood,” Gutierrez, 17, recalled on Tuesday. “It was horrible. To lose your friend, it’s horrible.”

One day after a fight outside a school bus stop ended with the stabbing death of one student and the arrest of another, witnesses described a pair of teenagers with a shared dislike of one another and a bus ride home that built to confrontation.

Some described the victim as the aggressor. Others suggested the two students, both at Palmetto Ridge High School, arranged the fight.

“People were just pushing it to happen, and it just happened, and they got off the bus,” sophomore Niambi Gutierrez, 16, brother of Moises Gutierrez, said.

Questions remained as to the role of the bus driver, who allowed the students to exit at a stop well before their homes. Reports state the driver caught word of the planned fight as participants exited his bus. Only after doubling back past the stop did he discover the outcome.

Sophomore Dylan Nuno, 16, suffered multiple stab wounds at a confrontation that occurred on the shoulder of 47th Avenue NE, by a home just east of 10th Street NE. Deputies say his alleged killer, Jorge Saavedra, 14, a freshman at the school, stabbed Nuno in the abdomen with a knife before fleeing into a nearby stand of woods.

Deputies located a blood-soaked Saavedra shortly after, and they later arrested him on an aggravated manslaughter charge. They have yet to recover the knife.

Tuesday morning, Collier Circuit Judge Lauren Brodie ordered the teenager held in juvenile detention for 21 days before arraignment. Thin, with a shock of black hair, Saavedra showed little emotion during the brief hearing. His parents stood by their son, and they later declined comment.

In reports, Collier detectives describe a fight in which few, if any, witnesses were aware Saavedra was armed. Nuno delivered the first blows, the report states, after which Saavedra appeared to punch his adversary in the stomach. Nuno then ran a few feet and collapsed.

“As Mr. Nuno fell to the ground he was heard saying something about being stabbed,” the report states.

Saavedra crossed 10th Street to the south and fled toward the woods, and witnesses saw a bloody knife in his hand, they told detectives.

Ruben Cervantes, 17, a student at Beacon High School who was nearby at the time of the fight, said he saw Saavedra stab Nuno four times in his torso.

“They were fighting and (Saavedra) pulled out a knife,” Cervantes told a reporter. “I saw Dylan fall on the floor. He was stabbed.”

Nuno, a sophomore at Palmetto Ridge and a recent transfer from Lely High School, lived with his father on 12th Street NE. Described as energetic and something of a class clown, Nuno was athletic and involved in sports like wrestling and Jiu Jitsu.

Lely High wrestling coach Tige Thompson recalled Nuno as a promising athlete held back by academic problems in his freshman year. Wrestling in a 119 or 125 pound weight class, Nuno was good on the ground, Thompson said, and very competitive.

“He would get extremely upset if he lost,” he said.

Nuno lost his team eligibility after a semester of poor grades, Thompson said, and he left Lely soon after. The coach described Nuno as somewhat typical for his age, with an attention span that diverted easily from one activity to another.

Nuno’s father, Renier Nuno, is a Jiu Jitsu teacher, Thompson said, and state records show he operates a business out of his home, RN Custom Closets & Glass, Inc. Reached in his driveway on Tuesday, Renier Nuno would only say his son “didn’t have any police record.”

“He was just a kid,” he said.

A woman who answered a phone number given on Saavedra’s booking report and identified herself as his sister described the teenager as “a good kid” who liked to hang out with friends and go to basketball games.

Caridad Valdes, 21, who lives next door to Saavedra, had positive words about her neighbor.

“He’s a quiet kid,” Valdes said. “The family is a good family. They’re just real quiet. He had friends that came over once in a while. Never any issues.”

Yet Valdes heard that Saavedra was being picked on at Palmetto Ridge, to the point he was reluctant to attend the school.

Collier County deputies arrested Saavedra on Dec. 9 after his mother reported he refused to go to school, according to an incident report. After being escorted to the high school, Saavedra walked away and then physically struggled with a deputy, reports say. The charge, resisting an officer with violence, was dropped days later.

Several who rode the bus with Saavedra also said he was picked on at the school, and sometimes on the bus.

Niambi Gutierrez said the bullying wasn’t physical or especially intense, but that it was “over and over.”

“He seemed to brush it off anytime it did happen,” she said.

Her brother, Moises Gutierrez, said the two boys had prior run-ins, and he pinned their differences on “petty stuff.” He said they threw paper balls at one another on the bus.

Adriana Rodriguez, 14, a freshman, said Nuno and his friends sometimes called Saavedra names and threw crumpled balls of paper at him. Saavedra often took it in stride, she said, but he sometimes grew angry.

Monday, Rodriguez was seated several rows in front of Nuno on the bus when she heard talk of a fight, she recalled. Nuno and a friend taunted Saavedra, who sat in the back and tried to ignore them, she said. She said that Nuno and his friends followed Saavedra off the bus at 10th Street NE.

Freshman Seleni Rodriguez, 14, also said Saavedra didn’t want to fight. Yet she expected something — Rodriguez said she exited the bus at 10th Street N.E., several blocks down from her normal stop.

Why the boys exited at the stop remains unclear. Saavedra lives on 20th Street; Nuno’s home is on 12th Street.

Moises Gutierrez said the fight was actually arranged on the bus, with both students agreeing to exit at the stop.

“They were ready to fight,” he said. “No one thought anyone would pull out a knife.”

Tuesday, Palmetto Ridge High School Principal Mary Murray sent a letter home with all students, informing parents of the death and arrest.

Murray reassured parents their children were safe, and she wrote that school officials visited the classrooms of both students to explain what happened and to offer counseling services.

The Collier County School District currently does not have metal detectors in its schools, but district officials said Tuesday staff is “attentive to the importance of reviewing our procedures to ensure the health, safety and security of our students and staff.”

District officials declined further comment on the incident, except to say that the loss was “tragic and saddens all of us.”

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the students involved,” district officials released in a statement.

Saavedra is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 14, when prosecutors will charge him as either an adult or a juvenile. Aggravated manslaughter is a first-degree felony punishable by a maximum 30 years in prison and a $15,000 fine if the defendant is charged as an adult.

Staff writers Ryan Mills, Kate Albers and Tracy X. Miguel contributed to this report.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 1

blueblood writes:

This is so very sad for both families.

I do wounder if the school has any liabilities since the knife was in Saavedra's possession all day while in class. This is definitely a case for metal detectors.

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