Witness on ITE fight: It was like a scene from Gladiator
She was chatting with her friends at the ITE College West campus at Choa Chu Kang Grove yesterday when she noticed the people around them backing away.
Syaza Syazwani, 17, realised trouble was brewing when she saw two youths having a shoving match in the centre of the school piazza.
What happened next could have been a scene from a movie like Gladiator, in which armed men fight to the death in front of cheering spectators in ancient Rome.
In this case, one of the antagonists was wielding what looked like a long bread knife while the other was unarmed.
A crowd had even gathered on the steps surrounding the piazza to watch the two teenagers square off against each other in what Syaza called an "epic" fight.
Fortunately, no one died.
But the unarmed youth, who was dressed in black, had to be taken to hospital with slash wounds while his assailant, who wore a white top and black pants, was arrested.
The New Paper understands that the dispute could have been over a girl.
The youth in white is believed to be a 16-year-old student at ITE College West while the youth in black is said to be a 19-year-old former or current ITE student who is dating the girl.
The fight was captured on two videos, which were later posted online. In the first video, a person can be heard describing the incident and even breaks into song at one point.
Syaza, a first-year business student, said she was at the piazza with her friends at around 12.30pm when she noticed the scuffle.
She said: "There were about 200 people in the piazza when the two guys started fighting.
"They didn't say anything, they just started pushing each other."
Students in the area gave them a wide berth, but many gathered around the steps to watch the drama.
Describing the fight, Syaza said the youth in black fell during the scuffle but got back up and tried to continue fighting against his assailant.
"The guy in white then took out a long knife and slashed him on the wrist," she added.
"It was epic. There was blood everywhere and then the guy in black ran away."
In the video clip that has since gone viral, the youth in white can be heard shouting at his opponent: "Fight? Ha? Want to fight?"
Syaza said the whole episode lasted about 15 minutes and some students tried telling them to stop fighting, but to no avail.
She said: "It kind of reminds me of the movie Gladiator.
"I was terrified, but I knew the guy with the long knife wouldn't go after anyone. He was only aiming for that one guy."
SECURITY GUARD DID NOT INTERVENE
At one point in the video, a security officer appears on the edge of the piazza and shouts for the two teenagers to stop. He makes no attempt to intervene.
Syaza said: "The guy in black ran towards the carpark and the other guy chased him. They continued to fight there, but I'm not sure what happened exactly."
The carpark is located next to the piazza, less than 30m away.
The second video, which was posted on Twitter, shows the two youths continuing their fight farther away from the piazza.
In the video, the youth in black can be seen taunting the youth in white, saying: "Come! You cut me? Cut me?"
The youth in white is no longer seen holding the knife.
The police received a call at about 12.35pm requesting assistance at ITE College West and established that a case of voluntarily causing hurt with dangerous means had occurred there.
A police spokesman said a 19-year-old youth was taken conscious to the National University Hospital and a 16-year-old boy was arrested. Investigations are ongoing.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said the victim had lacerations on his left arm and back.
The principal of ITE College West, Dr Yek Tiew Ming, said the school took a serious view of the matter and did not condone such an act.
Some ITE students told TNP they were disappointed in the way the school handled the situation and felt there should have been announcements to warn students to stay away from the piazza.
Year 2 student Muhd Danisy Abdul Rashid, 16, said he was eating his lunch when the fight happened in front of him.
"We watched the fight while eating our meals. It's not that we didn't want to help, but I think we were all confused and slightly panicky as to what we could do," he said.
After some time, several students stepped in between the two antagonists to stop the fight, he added.
The discipline master and security guards also moved in to prevent further fighting.
"Even though the (youth in the) black shirt was bleeding from his hand, he was still shouting and wanted to fight," said Danisy.
Another witness, Muhd Nafis Mohd Nasir, 19, said the commotion ended when the youth in black was taken to the students' centre while the discipline master held on to his attacker.
"They were both shouting at each other that the other party started the fight. A girl also stepped forward to talk to the guy in white and calmed him down. I think they know each other," said Nafis.
"There was a fight at ite college West this afternoon. The victim was sent to hospital and we will render whatever assistance is required. We take a serious view of the matter and do not condone such an act. The case was reported to the police and is now under police investigation."
- Dr Yek Tiew Ming, principal of ITE College West, in a statement released yesterday
"It's not that we didn't want to help, but I think we were all confused and slightly panicky as to what we could do."
- Muhd Danisy Abdul Rashid
Students: Why did school keep us in the dark?
AFRAID: Students Goh Shi Xuan (above, left) and Hans Danial say the school did not warn them about the armed assailant. - TNP PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Some ITE College West students were concerned that they did not receive any warning from the school about the armed assailant.
They told The New Paper they found out for themselves through word of mouth or social media.
Year 3 student Ali Azmi, 21, said: "I found out through Twitter."
Another student, Lorenzo Mediano, 17, said: "My friends texted me about it."
As there was no communication of the fight over the school's public address system, or through e-mail or text messages, some students said they did not know what to do or which area to avoid to stay out of danger.
They also did not know whether the fight had ended or when the piazza, where the fight took place, was safe again.
Several students said they saw others rushing to the scene of the fight out of curiosity, unaware that the youth was armed with a knife.
Lorenzo, a first-year student, said: "There should have been more information given to students for their safety."
Year 2 student Hans Danial said: "Why didn't the school tell us there was someone wielding a knife? What if he was targeting random students? I would have liked to be warned."
The video of the incident shows a security guard looking on during the fight without trying to break it up.
A witness, Muhd Danisy Abdul Rashid, said: "Eventually, the guards did step in to separate the two. The discipline master was also there."
But several students felt the school's security response could have been faster.
The school's reply to The New Paper's queries did not address the students' concerns about the lack of information and the slow security response.
ITE College West was in the news about a week ago when a viral video showed a cross-dressing peeping Tom being confronted by students after he allegedly entered a female toilet.
He was later arrested and charged with criminal trespass.
Last November, the police arrested a youth who attempted suicide at the college.
Some students said such incidents have made them feel uneasy while on campus.
Muhd Danisy said: "Things like these are disruptive and bring down the name and reputation of ITE."
Student Goh Shi Xuan, 19, said: "Because of the peeping Tom incident and now this one, I am afraid to come to school or go to the toilet."