Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

13-year-old accused of stabbing school resource officer to be tried as juvenile

The 13-year-old boy accused of stabbing a school resource officer at a middle school earlier this month will be tried as a juvenile, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Kenneth "Kenny" Stoltman's age, clean record and treatment options make the juvenile justice system the ideal venue, said Pinellas-Pasco Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett.

"Our juvenile system is supposed to be designed to correct some of these issues that affect some of these kids," Bartlett said, "and this will certainly be a good test case for that."

Stoltman took 11 12-ounce bottles of gasoline and a knife to Carwise Middle School in Palm Harbor on April 5 and stabbed officer Kenneth Fridlund, 55, three times when confronted, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Stoltman also violently tried to unholster Fridlund's gun.

Stoltman's attorney, Barry Cohen, contends his client took the bottles of gasoline to school to scare kids who were bullying him. He was going to show Fridlund the bottles of gasoline, Cohen said, but what happened next is unclear even to Stoltman.

"The boy doesn't really know how that happened," he said. "It's common with that much pathology that something like that can happen without actually remembering it."

But one thing that is clear to Cohen is why Stoltman went for the officer's gun: "He intended to kill himself," Cohen said.

Cohen, the influential Tampa lawyer who has represented clients in some of the Tampa Bay area's most high-profile legal cases, said he waived his usual fees for Stoltman to raise awareness of the issue of bullying, among other reasons.

Stoltman had a rough childhood and was frequently bullied in school, Cohen said.

"This is one of those sad cases," Cohen said. "This kid has been through pure hell as a young boy."

Cohen said that when you've had the trauma and depression and sadness that Stoltman has faced, it's hard for people without expertise to explain the behavior. "And that's why we have these very seriously trained mental experts," he said.

As a child, Stoltman's father used to dunk his head under water in the sink, Cohen said. His father eventually died due to complications of severe alcohol abuse, according to a death certificate.

Stoltman's mother is bipolar and a drug abuser, according to court documents and Stoltman's family. With arrest warrants in Florida, Stoltman's mother eventually fled the state.

At school, his life wasn't much better.

Beginning in the sixth grade, students taunted him by calling him "Cub Scout" and "Girl Scout" because he sometimes wore his Boy Scout uniform to school, Cohen said. Students would throw pencils at his head, he said.

"He just kept internalizing that anger and that sadness," Cohen said. "Things got to the point where he just had enough."

Cohen said there needs to be more public awareness about bullying. "The school has a responsibility to protect these other children as well by identifying this bullying and putting a stop to it," he said.

Cohen said he took the case to "put an end to this damn bullying" and because of the hardships Stoltman went through as a child.

"I took it because of the terrible, despondent background that he had and, despite his background, he did so well in the Boy Scouts. He was so proud of his achievements."

Danny Valentine can be reached at or (727) 893-8804.

13-year-old accused of stabbing school resource officer to be tried as juvenile 04/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 9:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. U.S. Pacific commander: Remains of sailors found on USS John McCain


    SINGAPORE — The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet says a number of remains of Navy sailors were found in a compartment of the USS John McCain, a day after the warship's collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters left 10 sailors missing.

    The damaged port aft hull of USS John S. McCain, left, is seen while docked next to USS America at Singapore's Changi naval base on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 in Singapore. The focus of the search for 10 U.S. sailors missing after a collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters shifted Tuesday to the damaged destroyer's flooded compartments. [Associated Press]
  2. Florida education news: Solar eclipse, gender gap, new schools and more


    TOTAL ECLIPSE: More than 8,000 Hernando County students skip school after their school district gives them excused absences for the day. Students who …

    Students at Bayonet Point Middle School observe the solar eclipse Monday through their special eclipse glasses.
  3. Epilogue: Martin Giles a man of few, but strong, words for WFLA-AM 970


    As the story goes, his higher-ups at the Misawa Air Base in Japan were clear with their edict to Martin Giles: It was only the mid-1950s, not far enough away from World War II for the Japanese to be trusted.

    Martin Giles, a longtime radio news anchor for WFLA-AM 970, died last week at the age of 80.
  4. Forecast: Minimal rain, for now, as hot temperatures prevail across Tampa Bay


    Tampa Bay residents can expect a calm, rain-free start to Tuesday before showers arrive in the evening.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]