HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - There's an increased police presence at Lee Davis High School in Mechanicsville and just about every student knows why.
"That's the only thing everyone is talking about. Everyone is just in shock. It's crazy," said student Ashley Gouldman.
One student is charged with hitting another student in the face with an ax. The image of the injury is enough to make you cringe.
"He has more than 140 stitches on left cheek from lip to ear," said Chelsie Miliore, friend of the victim.
It happened Friday night near the school. Police say two groups of teens were arguing in the parking lot of the Tractor Supply Co. on Mechanicsville Turnpike.
"Some kids were talking about him, calling him redneck," said Allyson Lane who is a friend of the victim.
The suspect and his friends went inside the store. Police say the victim and his friends followed. At some point police say the suspect grabbed an ax of the shelf and attacked the victim.
"He pulled off the plastic of the ax and came for the middle of his face but Austin turned his head so it got his cheek instead of down the middle," Chelsie said.
Chelsie and Allyson visited the victim in the hospital and at home this morning.
"He was upset. Didn't see it coming or nothing," said Chelsie.
Parents are voicing concern. Frances McCauley has three grandchildren in the school system
"I think it's absolutely horrible. What's wrong with talking things out in good words," he said.
Steve Perry is a senior at Lee Davis. He's familiar with the suspect.
"He did things the way he wanted to. It's surprising, but people are who they are and he just seemed a little out there to me," Perry said.
Right now, it's unclear how long extra security will be on campus.
"It's a little depressing that it has to be like that but it makes you feel safer," Ashley said.
The teen accused of swinging that ax is charged with aggravated malicious wounding. Police say it appears that the crime was spontaneous not planned. We did ask students if the two groups of teens involved in the incident had conflict in the past. We got a mixed response.