North Carolina High School Stabbing: The Ugly Truth of Self Defense

I have been seeing a lot of posts about a stabbing that happened at Southeast Raleigh High School, when I watched the video what I saw is a stark reminder of the brutal reality of self-defense. Because Gen Z doesn’t miss a chance to be featured on WorldStar the incident was of course caught on camera, here it is.



Here is a breakdown of the North Carolina High School Stabbing:

A 14-year-old, amidst a violent confrontation, found himself in a life-threatening situation. Facing a mob of older boys he was first “sucker-punched” before he attempted to flee, he was caught and thrown onto an unforgiving gym floor. Once on the floor, a mob begins raining blows down upon him, each kick and punch from his assailants amplifying the danger. In this desperate moment, where even a single blow to the head could have been lethal, he appears to resort to using a knife – not as an act of aggression in my opinion, but as a last-ditch effort to preserve his own life. Once his attackers retreat from this use of force, the boy stops his counter-attack and immediately removes himself from the situation. Looks like self-defense to me.


North Carolina High School stabbing location

Teen fatally stabbed during fight at North Carolina high school.
photo credit: NBC News

The Harsh Reality of Self-Defense

The 14-year-old boy survived this ordeal because he used justifiable force against his attackers, unfortunately, one of those attackers died from his stab wounds. As a result of that the 14-year-old is now being charged with Murder. And I have been seeing many comments on social media that agree with that charge. How do people come to that opinion?

This case strips away any romanticized notions of self-defense, laying bare its true nature. Self-Defense is violence to combat violence, and violence is fast, it’s chaotic, and it’s ugly, although often necessary as a response to imminent danger. So, when faced with reality our emotions will often take over and suggest that something so brutal could not possibly be justified. This reminds me of Varg Freeborn’s story. In 1994, at 19, he was convicted in a self-defense case that went terribly wrong and was sentenced to 5 years in prison for stabbing his attacker dozens of times. Following his release, he continued to fight his case and was eventually granted a full restoration of all civil rights. His book “Violence of Mind” is one of the best books on the reality of violence and self-defense I have ever read. 



Violence: Misconceptions vs. Reality 

The portrayal of self-defense in media and entertainment often glosses over the chaotic, unpredictable, and terrifying nature of real violent encounters. Self-defense isn’t the clean-cut hero saving lives and quickly dispatching the clearly evil villains of the movies. Violence, even in self-defense, is not a spectacle or a moment of triumph; it is a desperate act in desperate circumstances. It's a far cry from the glorified portrayals ingrained in the minds of most people today. Unlike the controlled environment of a film set, there's no script in a real-life attack, and the outcomes are uncertain and often traumatic.

The implications of a self-defense situation extend far beyond the immediate physical confrontation. Ethically, the use of violence, even in self-defense, can weigh heavily on a person’s conscience. Legally, those who defend themselves often face complex judicial proceedings, navigating a system that may not always align with the nuances of self-defense situations. Psychologically, the aftermath of using violence can lead to lasting effects like PTSD. Dr. Alexis Artwohl, in her work “Deadly Force Encounters,” highlights that “many [people] are unprepared for the moral and emotional aftermath” of using deadly force in self-defense (Artwohl & Christensen, 1997). This underlines the importance of mental and emotional preparation, not just physical training, for anyone serious about self-defense.


Self-Defense is a Last Resort

In the case of the teen at Southeast Raleigh High School, I believe his decision to use violence in self-defense was not one of choice but of sheer necessity. When surrounded by a mob, each decision is a split-second, driven by the primal instinct to survive. This scenario highlights that self-defense is often about choosing the lesser of two evils: the risk of harm to oneself or the use of force against an aggressor. It's crucial to understand that in such high-stress situations, the luxury of deliberation is absent, and actions are reactive, shaped by the immediate need to protect oneself.

Self-defense scenarios like this often present complex moral questions. The ethical dilemma arises from the need to reconcile the instinct for self-preservation with the moral weight of causing harm to another, even if it's in defense. It raises questions about the proportionality of force and the responsibility that comes with the capacity to inflict harm. This dilemma is not just philosophical but has real-world implications, impacting the psychological well-being of the defender long after the incident. It underscores the need for comprehensive self-defense training that addresses not only physical techniques but also ethical decision-making and the mental health aspects of self-defense.


Training and Preparedness

Self-defense training serves as an essential foundation, but it's crucial to recognize its limitations compared to real-world applications. Traditional training environments often lack the unpredictability and intensity of actual violent encounters. This disparity means that while training can prepare individuals physically, it may not fully equip them to handle the shock and rapid decision-making required in a true self-defense situation.

The mental and emotional aspects of self-defense are just as critical as the physical skills. In violent encounters, mental resilience and quick, clear decision-making are vital for survival and effective response. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, in his book “On Combat,” discusses the psychological effects of combat stress and the importance of mental conditioning. He asserts that mental preparedness can significantly impact how one reacts under stress, highlighting the need for training that encompasses stress management and emotional regulation techniques. This holistic approach to preparedness ensures individuals are not just physically ready but also mentally and emotionally equipped to handle the realities of self-defense.


To Wrap Things Up

As we come to the end of my ramblings on the often harsh and misunderstood realm of self-defense, several key points stand out. Firstly, the incident at Southeast Raleigh High School painfully illustrates that self-defense is not a choice made in leisure but a forced decision in the face of imminent danger. This case, like many others, exposes the stark reality of self-defense – it is brutal, rapid, and fraught with moral and legal complexities.

Self-defense is far removed from its cinematic portrayal. It's not about heroics or clear-cut scenarios of good vs. evil. Instead, it's a grim necessity, a response to violence with violence, where the outcomes are unpredictable and often leave lasting psychological scars. The story of the 14-year-old boy and his consequential actions underlines the weight of such decisions and their far-reaching implications.



Self-defense training, while essential, is only a part of the equation. Real-life encounters are unpredictable, requiring not only physical preparedness but also mental resilience and ethical awareness. As Tim Larkin points out in “When Violence Is the Answer,” understanding the true nature of violence and being prepared for its reality is crucial. He says, “Violence is rarely the answer, but when it is… it is the only answer” (Larkin). This sentiment echoes the necessity of acknowledging the gravity of violence and the importance of being prepared for its eventualities.

In advocating for informed training and awareness, it's vital to remember that understanding the true nature of self-defense goes beyond physical techniques. It encompasses a comprehensive approach that includes mental conditioning, ethical decision-making, and an acceptance of the somber realities of violence. It's about being prepared for the worst while hoping for the best, understanding that the path of violence, even in self-defense, is one fraught with moral dilemmas and life-altering consequences. A great place to start being prepared is to take the time to read some of the books I have shared through this post. 




About Mitch Goerdt

Mitch Goerdt is the Director of Marketing and Events at Born and raised amongst the Northeastern woods and waters of Minnesota, Mitch's childhood was filled with adventure, sports, and a deep appreciation for the outdoor lifestyle. His early career saw him don the hat of a mechanic and welder in the taconite mines. However, the call of distant horizons was too strong to resist. Mitch embarked on a journey across the country, soaking in diverse cultures and landscapes. This quest for knowledge also led him back to school, where he secured a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing Communications. Today, at, Mitch spends his days crafting content and using his imagination and skills to leave an impression on his audience. Outside the professional realm, he is a lifelong learner who finds solace in outdoor adventures and satisfies his love of athletics and competition in the world of competitive slowpitch softball.


  1. Darkwing on December 1, 2023 at 7:48 am

    I know this school. Most of the kids are animals. Single parent house holds, poor. These kids will pick on anyone just for a laugh

    • Mitch Goerdt on December 7, 2023 at 9:36 am

      These kids are not animals. They are human beings, just like you or I. They come from poverty and horrible conditions without proper guidance but they are human beings nonetheless. Regardless of the intent behind your words, It’s alarming any time I read or hear someone referring to a group of people, especially children, as animals.

      • Barry on December 8, 2023 at 10:38 am

        But you have to agree… they are certainly acting like animals. I am 100% siding with the only victim in this scenario… the 14 year old that was brutally attacked.

      • Adam on December 10, 2023 at 6:59 pm

        The behavior is animalistic for sure, and is prime example of pack/mob behavior..attacking the weak/outnumbered.
        The lack of common decency and compassion is these kids is alarming, as well as the shear mean/evil mentality. Learning Good and moral behavior starts at home with proper parenting, which many of these kids lack unfortunately. A lack of parenting however is not an excuse for attacking someone, and potentially beating them to death. This kid was fighting for his life again a pack of thugs, and is more than justified in his actions.

      • Sifter on December 11, 2023 at 8:36 am

        Vietnamese kids came to this country traumatized by war and poverty, they didn’t behave this way. Jewish Holocaust survivors came here having survived unspeakable things, they didn’t prey, vandalize and murder. People are fatigued from the ‘ poverty and hunger’ BS excuse. Kids can be animals. Ride the Red Line in Chicago for a year and get back to me.

      • Ed Taylor on December 28, 2023 at 7:51 am

        They are not animals but they are acting like animals. Poverty is not an excuse. Poor people can teach their children to behave. However, there is a culture of violence in America promoted by music, entertainment, dress and public demeanor. Widespread use of historical reference as an excuse does a disservice to these individuals. They are taught that violence is appropriate as they see it. The screaming, chaotic crowding to witness, actual participation is animalistic but will proport to be racial by those very participants, and the prolific use of cell phones denies large elements of “poverty”.

  2. Joe on December 8, 2023 at 8:48 am

    Your government hates you, but wants to give the appearance caring for you. They want us to fight amongst ourselves, so they can punish the survivor. They don’t recognize self-defense. They want you to become a cow, because they will eliminate or neuter all bulls.

  3. Richard on December 8, 2023 at 1:50 pm

    Self-defense is a layered system with all but the last layer being mental rather than physical. Sometimes layers are skipped but more often success in and earlier layer avoids the later levels altogether.
    1. Lifestyle. Thanks to John Farnham we know about the 4 stupids. Stupid places, stupid times, stupid people and stupid things. Avoid these as far as possible. Stupid places is probably the hardest since all cities basically qualify.
    2. Avoid. If things look dicey, go the other way. Situational awareness is key.
    3. Evade. If trouble is too close, move to safety. Cover, police, crowds. This also takes situational awareness and running mental scenarios.
    4. And if nothing else works, fight.

  4. Bryan Clark on December 9, 2023 at 7:26 pm

    Might want to rewatch the video. The kid has the knife in hand and stabs at the other kid as soon as he is punched long before he is rolling on the ground. He is defending himself from a nonlethal attack with lethal force. Going to be charged with at minimum assault with a deadly weapon all day long.

  5. N. Buford on December 12, 2023 at 8:22 pm

    Mitch, I understand your point & in theory it is valid.
    I know that many may frown upon my opinions & tactics in raising my own children, but one thing I frequently told our children growing up was, if you don’t want to be considered stupid or a moron, do not act in any way reflecting that.
    You reference poverty as one of the reasons why these wonderful products of society acted as they did. My father was born in 1928 & came up during the depression era. His family battled the most of starvation by sharecropping. There was 4 children that survived until adulthood but the last 3 died as babies more than likely due to malnutrition/starvation. So poverty is not to blame! Guidance, yes to some extent it is to blame but they probably do have guidance, it’s just no better than what you see in the video you posted.
    There is a very famous individual that comes to mind that was born into a family that wasn’t poor & if my memory serves me correctly he had guidance but went awry later in life. His name was Alolf Hitler. I would imagine that even you would classify him as being an animal of the worst magnitude.

    • Mitch Goerdt on December 13, 2023 at 9:50 am

      I understand where you come from. My family has not been a stranger to poverty either. And certainly, poverty alone will not create a culture like this. The reasons a culture like this is created are vast and incredibly nuanced. Unlike these children the generations before me were never enslaved, dehumanized, or repeatedly taught that due to the color of their skin they were less than a full human being, specifically 3/5ths of one as outlined in federal law at one point in the short history of our country. Whether we like to admit it or not these things have a long-lasting effect on the psychological state of people. The traumas people face are passed down from generation to generation. The point of knowing that isn’t to excuse this behavior, but to better understand it.

      I’m glad you brought up Adolf Hitler though, because he is a great example of the worst qualities of human nature. I do not classify him as an animal either. He is very much a human being. And his dehumanization of the Jews was key to his ability to carry out his attempted extermination of the Jewish people. He called them animals, his propaganda called them animals, and soon enough the ignorant human beings of Germany called them animals too. Dehumanization is a psychological process whereby opponents view each other as less than human and thus not deserving of moral consideration. I won’t do that and I will continue to cringe as others do, especially those of us that strap a firearm on every day.

  6. Dean Craig on December 14, 2023 at 8:26 am

    It seems pretty clear from the video that the two older boys who attacked the younger Tyquan started the fight, and the force used to defend seems reasonable.

    Is there some legit org helping with $$ for his defense?

    I also read that his grandmother has also been arrested for defending herself against a riot.

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