New York City High School Student Beat Principal Because His Mother Died, Lawyer Says

October 28, 2016 Updated: October 28, 2016

The lawyer for a student who allegedly beat up a New York City principal attempted to explain why his client lashed out.

The student, identified as Luis Penzo, was charged with beating Dr. Matthew Tossman, the principal. Reports indicated that Penzo lashed out at Tossman because he asked him to turn down the music in his headphones.

The beating took place Monday at Murry Bergtraum High School building in lower Manhattan, CBS New York reported.

Penzo’s attorney told The Associated Press that he was acting out because his mother died of a brain aneurysm in 2015.

His friends defended him.

“Luis is quiet. He keeps to himself,” said Ijanae Caballero, according to CBS New York. “Like I expect if you touch someone and break someone’s stuff, I mean, that would’ve been a good reaction for me.”

But another student told the New York Post the school has gotten “out of control.”

But schools chancellor Carmen Farina said the city is taking the matter seriously. “Anytime anyone is hurt in our schools, a child or an adult, it’s a cause for concern, so going back and reviewing what happened is important,” she said.

Penzo is being held on $5,000 bond.

A Department of Education spokesman says that according to police Tossman was attempting to pick up the headphones from the ground when he was punched and beaten.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.