Police: Intruder assaults teacher at Portsmouth High School

Marcus Schlip (Portsmouth Police Department photo)

Police said a man forced his way into Portsmouth High School and punched a teacher on Tuesday morning.

Police said 22-year-old Marcus Schlip demanded entry into a gymnasium and punched a physical education teacher who was holding open a door as she referred him to the main office.

Police said Schlip, who lives in the area, pushed through the entrance and kicked the teacher several times.

"As Schlip was denied entrance to the gym, he punched the teacher in the face as she was holding the main door," Chief Thomas Lee of the Portsmouth Police Department told NBC 10 News. "Schlip then pushed through the entrance ad kicked the teacher multiple times."

Officers found Schlip then walked back outside to the main office, where he asked to see the principal. arrested. School Resource Officer Maddie Pirri arrested him, while authorities also found a large knife in his backpack.

"At this time, we don't know what his motive was, why he did this, or why he assaulted a teacher," Lee said.

Schlip was charged with assault on schoolteachers, school officials or other school department employees, possession of a knife in a commission of a crime, and disturbance of public assemblies.

In court, the judge ordered Schlip to go to Butler Psychiatric Hospital for a mental health evaluation, to be driven there by his mother. While his mother wouldn't comment after court, his lawyer said there are mental health issues that need to be addressed.

"It's serious, assaulting a teacher, it's very serious. But that's not the issue. The issue is what led up to that," Christopher Gontarz, a defense attorney, said.

Police said he is a former Portsmouth High School student, but they don't know the reason for the attack.

The 27-year-old teacher, who was named in court documents as Risha Pelligrino, was taken to a hospital to be treated.

"It was certainly a violent assault," Lee said. "She received facial injuries, she was knocked to the ground."

Authorities are praising her for her efforts.

"She literally blocked his path," Lee said. "She did a great job, by the way."

Portsmouth police said no students were involved in the disturbance.

But how did the suspect get into a door that the chief said is normally locked?

"I believe the door had been opened earlier for a special needs student to come in in a wheelchair and there's a possibility that door was still unlocked," Lee said.

NBC 10 reached out to the Portsmouth superintendent, but was told she is not commenting. Instead, she referred a reporter to police.

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