Police investigating an attack at a prestigious boarding school in Devon in which two pupils and a member of staff were seriously injured have recovered a stash of weapons at the scene.
One teenage pupil was left in a critical condition, while another was said to be stable following an incident in the early hours of the morning at Blundell’s School in Tiverton, Devon.
A teacher, who was also hurt in the attack, was treated in hospital for serious injuries but was later discharged.
Superintendent Antony Hart, from Devon and Cornwall Police, confirmed that weapons had been recovered from the scene, but would not be drawn on what they were.
He said: “We are still establishing what happened in the early hours of this morning and an extensive investigation continues.
“Our investigation is being assisted by experts who are assessing the injuries sustained and how they were caused.”
He went on: “While we can confirm some weapons were located at the scene, it would not be appropriate to speculate on how these may have been involved while our enquiries continue.”
Police were called to Petergate, one of seven boarding houses in the school grounds, just before 1am on Friday following reports of a serious assault.
Claims that a hammer used in attack
They arrested a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
On Friday night it was claimed that a hammer had been used in the attack. The Guardian reported that a parent of a pupil at the school said: “One lad has gone into a dormitory and attacked the two pupils with a hammer.
“And then the teacher was attacked. It was one of the teachers who reside at the house. God knows what the motive was.”
Police have not said whether a hammer was found.
Just hours after the incident, Bart Wielenga, the headteacher of Blundell’s where fees for boarders are around £40,000 a year, wrote to all parents to reassure them that it was an “isolated incident” with no wider risk to other pupils.
Mr Wielenga, who taught at Wellington College in Berkshire before moving to Blundell’s in 2012, also urged parents and guardians not to engage in speculation or post about the incident on social media.
When called by The Telegraph, a staff member said: “We are supporting the police with their investigation and while it is ongoing we are unable to comment.”
Local witnesses claimed as many as 20 police cars had been at the scene overnight and there remained a large presence throughout the day with forensics officers seen going into the three-storey red brick building where the incident occurred.
A spokesman for the South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust said: “We were called at 00.57hrs on Friday June 9 to an incident in the Tiverton area.
“We sent three double-crewed land ambulances, an air ambulance, a rapid response vehicle and hazardous area response teams.
“Three individuals were conveyed by land ambulance to hospital.”
Attack said to have occured in dormitory room
The incident is understood to have taken place in one of the dormitory rooms within the boys’ boarding house.
Windows on the top floor of the Petergate building were boarded up having been damaged and police tape sealed off the main entrance.
Two PCSOs guarded the door while a plain clothes officer briefed a uniformed constable.
A sign on the main door to one of the modern buildings, called the Big School, urged pupils and visitors to be quiet as exams have been in progress throughout the day.
In the main grounds of the school a police patrol car was the only other obvious sign that something out of the ordinary had taken place.
Around the patrol car milled dozens of boys and girls in uniform or sports kits going about their normal business, many making their way to after-class activities in the extensive pitches and sports facilities.
The building where the incident is understood to have taken place stands opposite one of the school’s most distinctive features, the PB Stones, which were installed in memory of the school’s founder Peter Blundell.
They represent the tradition that if ever covered by the floodwaters of the nearby River Lowman, the pupils could demand a day’s holiday.
Blundell’s was founded in 1604 following the death of Blundell, a wealthy local merchant, who left £20,000 to be spent on building a school for a maximum of 150 boys.
Tuition fees had been introduced by 1882 when the school moved to its current, larger site.
The first girl was admitted to the sixth form in 1975 and it is now fully co-educational.
Around two thirds of the senior school board and there are a mixture of single sex and mixed houses.
Notable sporting alumni
The school, which is located on the edge of Dartmoor, is known for its pupils’ sporting prowess. It has a string of notable sporting alumni, including Dom Bess, who plays for the England Test cricket team, and English rugby union players Matt Kvesic and Jack Maunder.
Other former pupils also include reality TV star Georgia Toffolo, John Wyndham, the author of Day of the Triffids, and Vic Marks, the former Somerset and England cricketer.
The school has extensive sporting grounds and an equestrian team. It also has a rifle range. The school is known for the Russell, an annual muddy cross-country race of around seven miles across farmland.
A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said: “A 16-year-old boy from Tiverton has been arrested on suspicion of three counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He remains in police custody at this time.”
Richard Foord, the MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: “This is a market town with low levels of crime relative to other parts of the country. We haven’t seen anything like this before. It’s completely out of character for Tiverton and Devon as a whole.”
He added: “My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims, and with Blundell’s school community at this time.”
Alison Hernandez, the police and crime commissioner for Devon, said: “Incidents of this nature are always shocking, but when they take place in a school setting they are particularly distressing and my thoughts are with everyone involved.
“As commissioner of victim services, I am working with our strategic delivery partner Victim Support to be at the school to support anyone who witnessed or has been affected by these events which will no doubt have a lasting effect on the school community and their families.”
On its website, the co-educational school says it has a “safe, secure campus, set on the edge of the market town of Tiverton, surrounded by gentle hills and green space”.