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Central High student who allegedly choked teacher has been charged

Teacher John Ekblad, who was trying to break up a fight, suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Teacher John Ekblad, who was trying to break up a fight, suffered a traumatic brain injury.

A St. Paul Central High School student faces a felony assault charge after a cafeteria tussle rendered a teacher unconscious.

Around 10:30 a.m. last Friday, a fight broke out between two students over who had better football stats, according to St. Paul police and the Ramsey County Attorney’s office. Central staffers were trying to break it up when Fon’Tae Shamar O’Bannon, a 16-year-old football player, tried to intervene. Assistant Principal Mark Krois attempted to keep the boy from jumping in, but O’Bannon shoved him into a wall.

Krois later told the cops that he saw the boy “pushing and hitting” another teacher, John Ekblad, who was trying to stop the fight.

“Get the fuck off me or I’m gonna knock your ass out,” O’Bannon allegedly told the teacher.

The assistant principal and other witnesses claimed they saw the boy lift up Ekblad in a “strangulation hold” and “forcefully slam” him onto a lunch table, a connected chair, and ultimately the ground. They also said the boy shoved the teacher’s face into a concrete wall, breaking his glasses.

Once on the floor, O'Bannon allegedly got on top of Ekblad and started choking him, according to the Ramsey County Attorney’s office. The boy is also accused of repeatedly hitting the teacher in the face and neck. Officers later determined that Ekblad blacked out for 10 to 20 seconds while being strangled. He was taken to a hospital and treated for a traumatic brain injury, concussion, and neck trauma.

According to the Ramsey County Attorney’s office, one of the students involved in the football-stat fight also punched Krois several times in the chest. The assistant principal received medical treatment, a St. Paul Public Schools spokeswoman said. As of Tuesday afternoon neither Krois nor Ekblad had returned to school.

St. Paul police identified the boy who assaulted the assistant principal as O’Bannon’s brother. He was charged Monday with fourth-degree assault and obstruction of legal process.

Beyond the felony assault charge handed down Tuesday, O’Bannon faces one count each of fourth-degree assault and obstruction of legal process. He allegedly began laughing when the cops showed up and told him he was under arrest. O’Bannon denied assaulting the school staffers.

“I am deeply troubled by this case and what it represents: an alarming increase in violence perpetrated by students against school officials throughout Ramsey County,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement. “We cannot and will not tolerate this type of behavior in any of our schools.”