Students said they were scared when they saw the police arrive at Lafayette Elementary School in Oakland, Calif., Friday morning.
An Oakland Unified School District spokesman told KTVU that a third grade student was outside on the playground about 10:40 Friday morning. They say a parent volunteer lured the girl into a nearby bathroom and then the woman allegedly assaulted the nine-year-old with a hammer.
The district says a security guard and a teacher walked in during the attack and called police.
A district spokesman Troy Flint says the woman was identified as Haseemah Diame. Diame was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon. School officials say she likely did not have difficulty getting on campus because she was not a stranger but a parent, who was well-known at the school and was a frequent volunteer.
The girl was taken to Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Other children who were playing nearby say they were scared.
“I just saw the police come into the boys bathroom and one of the kids I was playing with they said somebody came into the school,” said Tracy Logan, a third-grade student who told KTVU that teachers ushered the children into classrooms.
Investigators are still trying to figure out a motive. District officials say it appears the woman did have a connection with the student’s family.
“It may have something to do with rivalries and feuds that occur off campus spilling over onto the site,” Flint told KTVU Friday after district officials met with staff at the elementary school.
The school supervisor sent a letter home with children Friday saying she was “outraged” and “in disbelief.” She also wrote, “The child is incredibly resilient and is conscious and communicating despite her ordeal.”
“That is very scary. I mean, if I were here and I see a lady with a hammer…I’d have taken my daughter right away,” said Antoinette Badio, a parent.
“Why would somebody come and assault a little kid at school. it makes you afraid to send your kid to school cause it makes you feel like it’s not safe for them to go to school,” said another parent Christopher Slaughter.
School officials say the alleged attacker Diame could face additional charges. The district plans to have extra staffing at the school next week and discuss with the Lafayette students and parents how to assist the victim and her family.
What appears to be quickly being scrubbed from the web is that the attacker is a new immigrant from Yemen, as are the victim’s family.
The school district identified the woman as Haseemah Diame, a well-known volunteer at the school. Both Diame and her victim are new immigrants from Yemen.
“The preliminary speculation is that this was part of a family feud and some sort of revenge in the pursuit of that family feud,” he said. “There’s apparently an ongoing rivalry or feud between families, and this may have been an act of retribution or vengeance as part of that feud.”