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A 16-year-old Connecticut student accused of stabbing a classmate to death inside a Milford high school will be arraigned Monday, as the community in mourning paid tribute to the victim at an evening vigil.
Maren Sanchez, a 16-year-old junior at Jonathan Law High School, was fatally stabbed by a classmate on Friday morning, hours before she was planning to attend the school's junior prom.
A candlelight vigil to pay tribute to Sanchez, who was named prom queen hours after her death, began at 7 p.m. Monday at the high school football field. Gov. Dannel Malloy was among some 2,000 people in attendance.
"She had a special quality about her that made everyone welcome," Malloy said at the vigil. "She was open and kind."
Malloy called Sanchez a star, saying she was inclusive, kind, talented and giving. He says she accomplished so much in a short period of time and affected so many.
The school welcomed community members and asked mourners to bring candles. They released purple balloons to the tune of Sarah McLachlan's somber ballad, "I Will Remember You." Purple was Sanchez's favorite color.
"We're all very much connected, so this hurts. It hurts," said Jonathan Law High School parent Lucy Ferrara.
Police have not named Sanchez's alleged assailant, who has been charged in the attack, but friends and neighbors have identified him as Christopher Plaskon.
Plaskon's attorney has not identified his client by name, but said he will be charged as an adult.
Rich Meehan, the attorney representing the suspect, said his client is currently under psychiatric evaluation and a 15-day emergency commitment at a medical facility.
Plaskon was not expected to appear at the arraignment in New Haven on Monday.
Some students said the attack took place because Sanchez, a member of the National Honor Society who was active in the school community, would not go to prom with the suspect. Police are not revealing a motive at this time and said the investigation is ongoing.
Classes at Jonathan Law were canceled on Monday as members of the community mourned and tried to come to grips with the tragedy.
The school remained open from noon to 5 p.m. on Monday for students and parents who wished to see counselors or support staff, the student newspaper reported on Twitter.
Students mourning the loss of Sanchez also returned to the high school on Saturday for comfort and counseling.
"Today is kind of hitting me because yesterday it was, you knew it happened, but you didn't know what to think about it because it's not something that happens every day and not something that you're ready for," said Kassandra Sebas, a friend of Sanchez's, over the weekend.
As night fell on Saturday, the memorial outside the school continued to grow. Grieving friends and community members left flowers, balloons, candles and mementos in honor of Sanchez.
Mourners held each other close, with some breaking down after seeing the memorial. All of them are trying to find some way to come to terms with such a loss.
A spokesperson for the suspect's family told NBC Connecticut their thoughts are with the victim and her family. The family plans to release a statement after the arraignment on Monday.Friends of the suspect expressed shock at the allegations, saying he is a good kid from a great family."I was pretty good friends with the kid," said a sophomore at the school. "He was on the football team. We talked a lot, and it's kind of shocking knowing one of your good friends did something bad like that."
Visiting hours for Sanchez will be held at the Cody-White Funeral Home in Milford from 2 to 7 p.m. on May 1. According to her obituary, there will not be a funeral.