A 25-year-old substitute teacher stabbed the principal of Johnnycake Middle School in the leg with a butcher knife yesterday, then chased him into another office, where he tried to attack an assistant principal before a parent wrestled him to the floor, Baltimore County police said.
Principal G. Roger Proudfoot, 47, sustained a superficial leg wound.
Terrance Leroy Alter of the 3300 block of Windsor Blvd. in Woodlawn was charged with attempted murder and assault with intent to murder and held at the Woodlawn precinct pending a hearing before a District Court commissioner.
Police and witnesses said Mr. Proudfoot was at a regular Tuesday morning meeting about 10 a.m. when Mr. Alter burst into the room and tried to stab the principal with a 9-inch butcher knife.
"It was quick," said Susan K. Melton, a Johnnycake Middle guidance counselor who was at the meeting. "I don't recall him [the suspect] saying anything."
Mr. Proudfoot raised a chair toward off his attacker and finally dove to the floor, where he was cut on the leg, according to Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a county police spokesman.
The principal ran from the conference room to an assistant principal's office, with his attacker chasing him, police said.
Assistant Principal Ellen M. Reed, 53, was meeting in her office with parents. The suspect "went after her with the knife," said Sergeant Doarnberger, but missed.
"One of these parents wrestled him to the ground and got the knife away from him," Sergeant Doarnberger said. He would not identify the parent.
Police arrested Mr. Alter and charged him in the attempted murder of Mr. Proudfoot and assault with intent to murder Mrs. Reed.
According to school department records, Mr. Alter had substituted at Johnnycake and nearby Woodlawn Middle School about 10 times since January. But Miss Melton said he had been asked not to return and that "Mr. Proudfoot would get in touch with him."
Sergeant Doarnberger said the suspect was apparently angry at the principal for not allowing him to substitute anymore.
"We were all shocked" by the attack, Miss Melton said. She said she knew little about Mr. Alter, except that, "He came, he volunteered his time, he substituted, and he went home. We really do not know much about him."
Bill Lawrence, a school spokesman, said yesterday that Mr. Alter, like all school employees, had passed a background check before he began working at Johnnycake Middle. That included a fingerprint and a criminal background check.
Mr. Lawrence said Mr. Alter was asked not to return to Johnnycake because, "We had a problem with him." He would not elaborate.
A few of the 980 students at Johnnycake apparently saw Mr. Alter in the hallways with the butcher knife, but no students were hurt.
A team of crisis counselors was sent to the school to talk to children who were particularly upset.