Cohenmorana_2Primary school Principal Rick Cohen and Superintendent Laura Morana at a 2007 event.

The Asbury Park Press has a dramatic account today of the previously unreported role of the principal and a guidance counselor at the Red Bank Primary School in subduing a knife-wielding man as he stabbed a woman at the school entrance Wednesday.

Shortly before 9a that morning, Principal Rick Cohen “heard one of his staffers screaming that someone needed to call the police” and ran outside, the Press reports. There, about 25 feet from the entrance to the school courtyard…

“This man was on top of this woman, stabbing her,” 34-year-old Cohen told the Press. “I really felt, at that moment, if I didn’t do something, she was going to die.”

Police later identified the assailant as Jorge Vargas Mancilla of Red Bank and the victim, whose name has not been disclosed, as his 21-year-old ex-girlfriend and mother of their 6-year-old child, a student at the school.

From the Press:

When Cohen ran out, the victim was on the ground and Vargas Mancilla was holding her down with one hand, while he stabbed her with the knife that he held in the other hand, the principal said.

Cohen said he initially tried to tell Vargas Mancilla to stop hurting the woman, but the 22-year-old did not respond to his pleas.

“It was evident that we were going to have to get the knife out of his hand,” said Cohen.

At one point, Vargas Mancilla came at both the principal and guidance counselor, Karl Parker, 45, with the kitchen knife, but neither man was injured, school officials said.

Cohen said he and Parker circled around Vargas Mancilla, who was kneeling next to the victim. When they had the chance, Cohen said he grabbed Vargas Mancilla’s arm and took the knife out of his hand, then Parker knocked him down and held him until police arrived.

A that point, school nurse Teresa Ullmann, 59, began caring for the victim, turning her on her side to help keep her airway open because she was having some difficulty breathing, the Press reports.

By that time, the first patrol car was already at the scene, and then the second squad car, equipped with oxygen, arrived. Police put an oxygen mask on the woman, and first aid squad members began to tend to her wounds.

The Press says Cohen has been the school principal for three years; Parker has been a counselor at the school for 21 years, and he taught classes before joining the guidance department; and Ullmann has been a nurse for more than 30 years.

A school employee tells redbankgreen that a staff meeting at the school on Wednesday, Cohen and Parker were given a standing ovation.

“They were heroes,” said the employee, who asked that her name not be reported. The assailant, she said “could have run around the school with the knife, stabbing people.”

“We view their actions as incredibly heroic,” schools Superintendent Laura Morana said last night.

Vargas Mancilla was charged with was charged with attempted murder and weapons offenses and was last reported to be in the Monmouth County Jail, with bail set at $750,000.

The victim’s condition remains unknown; she was reported late Wednesday to be be in stable condition at Riverview Medical Center. Neither Police Chief Mark Fitzgerald nor Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw responded to phone messages.

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