Dublin teens allegedly attack Cal student in class last week

The three teens have been identified by the San Ramon Police Department and could face criminal charges


Photo courtesy of Brandon Autran

Two Dublin teens shove a sophomore to the ground and appear to punch him in a sixth period algebra class.

Three Dublin High students entered Cal High’s campus and allegedly attacked a sophomore boy on Monday, leaving students, staff, and parents in the community shaken. 

A video of the alleged attack shows the Dublin teens barging into Kelly King’s sixth period algebra class and violently shoving the sophomore boy to the ground, toppling books and chairs. 

Dan Lister, the wrestling and track and field coach who was substituting for King at the time, struggled with the assailants before they fled the scene.

“People went to the other side [of the classroom], and some students ran out across the hallway to get other teachers,” sophomore Caed Coffie said. Coffie was in the room when the attack occurred. “It was kind of scary.”

Teachers called administrators and the San Ramon Police Department to the scene minutes after the incident.

The Dublin teens were subsequently identified by the San Ramon police and the department will work with the Juvenile Division of the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office to pursue charges against the boys, according to a NextDoor post by San Ramon Police Chief Denton Carlson. Carlson wrote in his post that one of the teens is on probation in Alameda County. 

Cal Principal Demetrius Ball said several Cal students who helped the attackers initially identify and locate the sophomore on campus are also facing consequences.

The sophomore boy denied knowing who the assailants were. He said one of the Dublin teens entered first, left, and then returned with the other attackers to confront the sophomore.

“They like, who’s [sophomore’s name]?,” the sophomore boy said. “I’m just trying to keep it low. [I have] never seen them before in my life. I stood up, had to bang it out with them.”

The Californian is not naming the sophomore boy because he is the victim of an alleged crime.

The sophomore boy, Lister, and Coffie all said that one of the Dublin teens claimed the victim had insulted one of their mothers, but the sophomore boy said he would never say anything negative about someone’s family member.

“When I saw the middle [assailant] screaming at the kid, what did you say my mom, I thought, something’s not right here,” Lister said. “Then I thought, uh oh, something’s going to happen, and I actually thought the [assailant] may have a weapon.”

The Dublin teens then started to hit the sophomore boy on the head. Lister, who has 35 years of experience as a probation officer working in facilities like juvenile halls, said he jumped to deescalate the situation. He said he tackled and briefly pinned two of the attackers against the wall as the other tussled with the sophomore.

“That night I can’t sleep and I’m thinking, what if those three kids were running around with guns? What would you do? What would we have done?”

— Dan Lister

“I wasn’t even feeling that…because I knew that adrenaline was going to get to me. It was like I was on autopilot,” the sophomore boy said. “But I got up from it, you know, they wasn’t really hitting that hard.”

The sophomore boy and one of the Dublin teens can be seen crashing into a table in a video that was taken by another student in the class. The two that Lister tackled got up to help the attacking teen and Lister can be seen grappling with them again and then slipping in the video.  

“They were so laser focused on the kid they never swung at me,” Lister said. “They wanted to hit the kid only, so all I was trying to do is dissuade the situation so I can buy time, and then once they realized they couldn’t pull it off, they cut. It was like executing a hit.”

The sophomore boy escaped with no major injuries. Lister, who is 63 years old, said he hurt his shoulder, knee, and hamstring in the fight. 

But Lister said what stuck with him most was the possibility of the assailants carrying weapons, drawing disturbing parallels with a similar fight in a Santa Rosa high school in March where two teens assaulted another student who was armed, resulting in a fatal stabbing.

“That night I can’t sleep and I’m thinking, what if those three kids were running around with guns? What would you do? What would we have done?” Lister said. “But in that split second all I saw was safety for this kid.”

Coffie also said it was scary to think about how different the situation would have been if the attackers were armed.

Many students and parents have been calling for increased security measures, with concerns that a potential armed shooter could enter campus just as easily. The United States experienced 51 school shootings in 2022 alone, according to edweek.org.

“I heard they gotta make this [a] closed campus,” the sophomore boy said. “So that’s probably the most sensible thing to do. The [attackers] went onto the campus with gates open, no one telling them to not be there.”

Ball said that after the incident, administrators are adjusting protocol in place right now, like positioning campus monitors and administrators to be more present on campus. 

Substitute teacher Dan Lister wrestles with two of the Dublin teens. Lister is a wrestling coach and former probation officer. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Autran)

“I want us to really reflect and look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it procedurally,” Ball said.

Ball said concerned parents have asked how the attack could have happened and suggested locking down the school. He said that he would like to be able to close entrances to Cal, but areas such as the Event Center that PE classes need to access aren’t fully enclosed by the gates. 

A Cal High parent who wanted to remain anonymous to protect their children said that Cal’s security measures are not enough if outsiders were able to get all the way inside of a classroom.

“The issue that happened on Monday wasn’t about keeping kids on campus, more of keeping kids outside of Cal out of campus,” the parent said. “I think the focus should now shift to protecting the students inside the actual classrooms and campus.”

Ball stressed the importance of carefully balancing staff, student, and parent perspectives and continually making the right adjustments from feedback.

“No matter what, we’re going to do the best that we can to keep everybody safe,” Ball said. “I just want everyone to know that we all have a responsibility to keep each other safe and see each other as people and not dehumanize each other.”

 Chinese teacher Winnie Wang was teaching her sixth period class when a sophomore girl burst in asking for someone to call the police. Wang saw Lister had been pushed out of his room and proceeded to lock the door and call the office for help as her students curiously peered out the window into the hallway. 

Wang said this was her first time experiencing a situation like this in her 16 years teaching at Cal. 

“Before this incident I didn’t think about [not having enough security]. I thought our school was a safe place,” Wang said. “But right now I’m not sure.”

Cal parent Tingting Hu said she is just happy that the assailants were caught.

“It’s good that the students were apprehended,” Cal parent Tingting Hu said. “Stuff like this happened a lot when I was little where I lived [in China] and nobody cared to stop it.”