Dane Bancroft may only be 13 years old, but his father says the boy is a “hero.”
Dane, a student at Watson B. Duncan Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, interrupted a knife attack at his home at BallenIsles Country Club early Monday that left another boy dead and Dane’s mother, Elaine M. Simon, hospitalized with stab wounds.
Dane was also left seriously wounded after being stabbed 32 times during the attack, according to Palm Beach Gardens police.
Lucas Bancroft, Dane’s father, said his son had a kidney removed, sustained liver damage and has undergone two surgeries since he was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center, but is expected to recover.
“He’s a hero,” Bancroft said during a phone interview. “He saved his mom.”
Corey Johnson, 17, is being held in juvenile detention while a grand jury decides whether to charge him as an adult on one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder.
Jovanni Sierra, a 13-year-old friend of Dane’s who was spending the night, was allegedly killed by Johnson.
Johnson was on top of Simon stabbing down at her and “trying to end her life” when Dane pushed him off, his father said.
Dane and Johnson engaged in a “brutal fight” that allowed Simon to run to a neighbor’s house and call police.
After pulling away from Johnson, Dane went out a second-story window, then scaled down about 12 feet to ground level, his father said.
“Dane, and his brother Kyle, are tough-minded kids, the kind of kids you would want in a trench with you,” Lucas Bancroft said. “Without (Dane), this would be a whole lot different.”
Simon, a family-law attorney based in Palm Beach Gardens, told police she heard Jovanni Sierra moaning and went upstairs to investigate. As she reached the top of the stairs, Johnson pounced on the 43-year-old woman, stabbing her multiple times, according to an arrest report.
Simon sustained a serious stab wound to her face and other major lacerations to her neck and wrists, Lucas Bancroft said, who divorced Simon in 2006.
The report says Dane reacted by running towards Johnson in order to “protect his mother … ”
Johnson then stabbed Dane repeatedly.
Kyle Bancroft, Dane’s 15-year-old brother, said in a phone interview that he and Johnson have been best friends since they met in elementary school around nine years ago.
Kyle said that Johnson had not taken his anti-depression medication for a week before the attack took place.
For the past couple of months, Johnson had repeatedly told Kyle that “I would never hurt you,” but didn’t exhibit any violent behavior.
According to the police report, Johnson’s Muslim faith was ridiculed by Dane while the boys attended Jovanni Sierra’s birthday party on Sunday.
“That’s something that would have set him off,” said Kyle, adding that Johnson didn’t take kindly to dismissive comments about his faith.
Kyle said he woke up after hearing Dane calling out Jovanni Sierra’s name, but said he never witnessed the stabbings or saw Johnson following the attack. Johnson barricaded himself inside a room, where he was found by police.
Of his brother’s actions, Kyle said, “He’s really brave. He’s always been tough. And he’s very protective of our mother.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up online to help Dane’s family pay for his care and that of his mother.
Lucas Bancroft said that Dane is “a little bit conscious” but awake enough to speak to his mother on Monday.
“I’m sorry,” the boy told his mother.