TORONTO - The stabbing death of a 19-year-old student described as a "very kind young man'' left a Toronto high school "heartbroken'' Tuesday as police continued to search for a teenage boy considered a suspect in the incident.
Hamid Aminzada, whose family had only arrived in Canada some two years ago, died in hospital after being stabbed multiple times at North Albion Collegiate Institute in the city's northwest end.
The students and staff were struggling to process the day's events.
"This is a very nice and kind young man. It's heartbreaking for us because all we've seen from him is just being respectful,'' Naeem Siddiq, the school's principal, told reporters just hours after the incident.
"It's a very sad story for us as he was quite focused on his family and his future. There's no indication of this young man in any way being involved in anything negative and it's just a tragic loss for us.''
Authorities were called to the school around 12:45 p.m. and found Aminzada with no vital signs.
"Police, EMS and Fire arrived on scene, they were able to bring him back,'' Const. Jenniferjit Sidhu. "CPR was commenced and a pulse had been restored and there was an emergency run to hospital.''
Aminzada later died in hospital as police searched for a 17-year-old boy wanted in connection with the stabbing.
The school's principal said Aminzada had been a "very active student'' in the school's English as a Second Language program and was well known to teachers and students.
"He's been doing quite well,'' Siddiq said outside the school. "Our priority right now is to do our best to take care of all the students, to be supportive of the family and try to provide some sense to the kids in the building.''
Siddiq added that the stabbing was "an isolated incident.''
"I've always felt that this is a true community school where the kids look out for each other,'' he said. "We're going to do our best to keep all the kids safe, make sure that the kids come here by choice and they're very comfortable here.''
The school was locked down in the wake of Tuesday's stabbing with officers conducting a "walk-through'' of the premise, police said. Nearby high schools were also secured as a precaution.
Officers cleared the school one classroom at a time, searching the entire building through the afternoon.
While officers continued to interview witnesses, gather forensic evidence and review video surveillance from the school through the early evening, police said they expected to make a quick arrest.
"We're confident we know who we're looking for,'' said lead investigator Det.-Sgt. Terry Brown, adding that he encouraged the suspect to turn himself in.
"We have no idea what caused this to occur, obviously whatever it was it escalated very quickly and the injuries were obviously fatal. Part of the investigation will find out whether there was a pre-existing history between these two people.''
The Toronto District School Board said it was focused on helping the school and its community through the coming days.
"This is a sombre day for the entire TDSB community,'' said director of education Donna Quan. "Our focus is now on supporting our students, parents and guardians, and staff through this difficult time.''