Special-education teacher fatally stabbed in classroom attack

By Calvin Palmer

A special-education teacher was fatally stabbed this morning in a classroom at a Texas high school.

Todd R. Henry, 50, worked at John Tyler High School with students who were either emotionally or behaviorally challenged.

Police took a 16-year-old student into custody and is being held at Smith County Juvenile Detention Center.

District Superintendent Randy Reid said the male suspect approached his teacher about 8:50 a.m. and stabbed him in the neck with a sharp object. A teacher’s aide and two other students were in the classroom.

The paraprofessional subdued the suspect and then called Tyler ISD police, Reid said. The other two students in the classroom were not injured.

Reid said the student had been in and out of the district “a couple of times”, but declined to provide further details, citing privacy laws.

“It is our understanding at this time that there was nothing in the classroom that incited this situation,” he said. “It was a random act.”

The high school was locked down after the stabbing and students were eventually sent home for the day. Classes will resume tomorrow.

Henry’s wife of 10 months, Jan, said he had been injured by a student before. Her husband missed the first two weeks of school recovering from shoulder surgery after he broke up a fight at school last year.

“He worked in a prison for 10 years,” Jan said. “Do you think this man was afraid? Get real. We’d be eating out and a student would walk up and shake his hand. He’d look at me and smile and say, ‘That’s what it’s all about.'”

Police did not offer a motive behind the stabbing.

School Board President Ron Vickery said the incident was not gang-related, nor was it racially motivated. A fight in the school earlier in the morning was not related to the stabbing.

Henry, a native of Chicago, grew up in Huntsville, Texas, after his family moved there in 1973. He was a confirmed bachelor until he married Jan, also an educator.

He gained a degree in psychology with an emphasis in music therapy, working for at least a decade as a music therapist, mainly with inmates in the state’s prison system, his wife said.

He was self-taught on several string instruments, played in several bands on the weekends and did some studio work.

[Based on reports by the Associated Press and Tyler Morning Telegraph.]

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