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A 14-year-old girl went on a playground rampage with a hypodermic needle, stabbing 37 classmates, Puerto Rican officials said yesterday.
"She would stab one, run, stab another, run, like it was some sort of joke," Education Secretary Jesus Rivera Sanchez said about Tuesday's lunchtime attack on 12- to 14-year-olds at the Jose de Choudens middle school in the southern coastal town of Arroyo.
Health Department spokeswoman Margarita Casalduc said it was unclear if the syringe contained anything and further tests were needed to determine if it was contaminated. But the victims, accompanied by their shaken parents, gathered at a convention center to be tested for HIV and hepatitis C and to be given preventive medications.
Sanchez said counselors also were helping the victims and their parents.
Social workers were interviewing the alleged attacker to try to determine a motive, Justice Department spokesman Fidel Rodriguez said. He said no charges had yet been filed, but officials said she had been suspended from school.
Rivera said the girl first told investigators she found the syringe, but later said she stole an unused one while visiting a relative at a hospital and had planned to pierce her ear with it. He said it was not clear why she decided to attack her classmates.
A woman who answered the phone at the school said the director, Gloria Ramos, was not available for comment.