A man was being questioned on suspicion of attempted murder tonight after a 14-year-old girl was stabbed near the gates of her school in an attack witnessed by other pupils.
West Midlands Police said Chloe West had suffered serious wounds to her upper body and face, but was saved from even more severe injuries when bystanders confronted and detained her attacker.
An 18-year-old man, believed to be known to Chloe, was arrested outside Ridgewood High School in Stourbridge, West Midlands, at about 8.45am today after initially being tackled by students, pupils' parents and teaching staff.
Speaking to the media near the scene of the incident, Superintendent Stuart Johnson praised the bravery of those who stepped in to halt the attack.
He said: "I would just like to pay tribute to the very brave individuals who, without too much thought for their own safety, intervened at the time of the incident this morning.
"They showed tremendous bravery in intervening and actually detaining the suspect and in my opinion - based on medical evidence - they clearly prevented far more serious injuries to Chloe."
Chloe is said to be in a stable and non-life-threatening condition after being airlifted to Birmingham Children's Hospital, where she is due to undergo surgery.
Officers were called to reports of a girl being stabbed near the school's main gates at 8.42am and were at the scene within minutes.
Mr Johnson said: "On arrival, they saw that there was indeed a young lady, who we since know to be a pupil at the school, with serious injuries believed to be knife wounds.
"They also found that a young man, who we have since established does not attend the school, had been detained by members of the public here in the street."
The stabbing happened near semi-detached houses in Park Road West, a cul-de-sac which leads to the school, as Chloe walked along the pavement.
Witnesses claimed the attacker arrived in Park Road West in a vehicle which had been driven to the area at high speed.
Asked whether the victim had been in a relationship with the man who was arrested, Mr Johnson replied: "We've certainly received information this morning that the two people involved know each other.
"Whether that formed the basis of a relationship or not, certainly the indications are that they knew each other in the past."
Mr Johnson said the incident was not directly linked to the "life of the school" and, although several pupils were witnesses, it did not take place on school premises.
"I understand there were a number of pupils arriving for school this morning who witnessed the incident," the officer went on. "Clearly that would be traumatic for them and the education authority will be looking after their interests."
The school, a specialist science college, was closed in the aftermath of the attack but will reopen as normal on Monday.
In a statement, the school's headteacher Clive Nutting said: "Police were called to the school today before 8.50am after one of the pupils was attacked on their way to school. The matter is now in the hands of police."
Local Conservative councillor Margaret Cowell, who lives around 70 yards from the scene of the stabbing, said she knew nothing of the incident until she saw a police car speeding up the road with its sirens sounding.
"In 50 years of living up here I have never seen a police car come past with its sirens going," the 70-year-old said. "I really can't believe what has happened."
In a statement published on its website, the school said it would do everything it could to support students and staff.
The notice to students and parents read: "You may be aware of an incident that occurred outside of the school premises at 8.42am today.
"Dudley police were called after a 14-year-old Ridgewood student sustained injuries following an attack. The man who was subsequently arrested at the scene is unconnected to the school.
"The student is in hospital receiving treatment and her condition is currently stable. The school's thoughts go out to both her and her family.
"Additional support for students and staff will be available as required and we will do everything we can to support members of our school community during this difficult time."