The parents of Tanaya Lewis sit in 37th District Court Sept. 14 for the arraignment where their daughter was charged with first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of a classmate at Warren Fitzgerald High School.

The parents of Tanaya Lewis sit in 37th District Court Sept. 14 for the arraignment where their daughter was charged with first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of a classmate at Warren Fitzgerald High School.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Warren school stabbing suspect charged with first-degree murder

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published September 14, 2018

 Lewis is accused of bringing a kitchen knife from home and killing a 16-year-old classmate.

Lewis is accused of bringing a kitchen knife from home and killing a 16-year-old classmate.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Media cover the arraignment.

Media cover the arraignment.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Danyna Gibson was killed in class Sept. 12.

Danyna Gibson was killed in class Sept. 12.

Facebook photo

WARREN — Police and prosecutors have laid out the allegations in their case against a 17-year-old Fitzgerald High School student accused of stabbing a classmate to death Sept. 12, and they are horrific.

The suspect, Tanaya Lewis, was arraigned in the 37th District Court on a charge of first-degree murder Sept. 14 for the death of 16-year-old Danyna Gibson. At press time, she remained held in the Macomb County Jail without bond, and was scheduled to go back before a judge Sept. 27 for a probable cause conference.

“As the class was in transition, the defendant approached the victim, producing a straight-edged kitchen knife that she brought from home, and stabbed the victim two times in the upper chest, once striking her heart,” Warren Police Detective Cpl. Don Seidl told Judge Suzanne Faunce during the arraignment hearing. “The victim tried to flee from the defendant. With the defendant chasing her around the classroom, the defendant stabbed the victim one more time in the back, at which time the victim fell to the floor.”

Seidl continued, “The defendant then stabbed with a hammer-fist-punch stab to the back, which punctured her lung. The defendant was pushed from the classroom by a teacher. The defendant then tried to get around the teacher to get back in the classroom, yelling, ‘I’m going to kill her.’ Witnesses said the defendant was smiling and laughing as she was chasing the victim.”

Lewis said little during the hearing and showed no emotion. She was arraigned by video from the Warren jail. Her parents were in the courtroom. Her defense attorney, Mark Brown, asked the judge to consider a bond, but the judge denied that request.

“It’s very unfortunate; that’s what I can say,” Brown said after the hearing.

Police have said the girls were both straight-A students and friends until some point, and that the killing may have been the result of a dispute involving a male student. Detectives have collected the cellphones of all three teens as evidence and will now attempt to piece together a case that outlines alleged premeditation.

A source said detectives interviewed 25 Fitzgerald High School students and faculty members, many of them reportedly eyewitnesses to the shocking attack.

Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Smith told the judge the killing was the first inside a school in Macomb County. He spoke to reporters after the hearing on Sept. 14.

“What we have here is the first-ever homicide inside a Macomb County high school, inside a Macomb County school,” Smith said. “We’ve had previous incidents. We’ve had previous injuries. We’ve had a previous stabbing in Macomb County, 10 or 12 years ago. We’ve never had a homicide until now.”

Smith said his office has been working with police departments and school districts across the county over the last year to ensure school safety amid a rash of local threats and gun violence elsewhere. He said the dialogue will continue in light of the fatal stabbing at Fitzgerald.

Of Gibson and her family, Smith said, “She was a great kid, doing everything you want from your daughter and going to school. The last place in the world you think your daughter or your child is going to be in danger is at our schools.” He later added, “There’s nothing I can say that’s going to make anything any better, other than I can guarantee we’re going to do our jobs.”

Of Lewis and the charge leveled against her, Smith said, “Premeditation is abundant in this case. It’s as simple as the fact that she brought a knife to school.” He added, “She committed the most horrific crime there is. This was premeditated. We’re going to make sure, in every way possible, that Miss Lewis is not on the streets and not able to do this again.”   

Lewis is scheduled to be back in court for the probable cause conference before Judge Matthew Sabaugh at 8:45 a.m. Sept. 27. First-degree murder is punishable by mandatory life in prison.

Look for updates to this story online after the hearing at www.candgnews.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/warrenweekly.