Milford Police Chief Keith Mello, right, speaks while Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Feser listens during a news conference at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Conn., Friday, April 25, 2014. Authorities have confirmed that Maren Sanchez, 16, was stabbed to death Friday. A teenage boy is in custody, and police are investigating whether the attack stemmed from her turning down an invitation to be his prom date. (AP Photo/The New Haven Register, Peter Hvizdak) MANDATORY CREDIT
Teen killed in school stabbing incident
01:17 - Source: WFSB

Story highlights

NEW: Police: A 16-year-old girl was cut in the neck, chest and face; a knife is found

NEW: The suspect, 16, faces murder charges; he could later be charged as an adult

NEW: The family of Maren Sanchez says more should be done to prevent school violence

The assault happened at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Connecticut

CNN  — 

A 16-year-old girl, described by her family as “a bright light full of hopes and dreams,” died inside her Connecticut high school on Friday after being slashed in her neck, chest and face, authorities said.

The alleged assailant was removed by staff members at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, local police said.

He’s being held at a local medical facility and a murder charge is pending, officials said. He’ll be arraigned on this charge next Monday in a juvenile court in New Haven, though police note that courts will decide later if he will be tried as an adult.

The incident began around 7 a.m. in a stairwell at the school, and was witnessed in part by at least one school staff member.

Maren Sanchez, shown here in her Facebook profile, was attacked Friday morning in a hallway at school.

Sanchez, a junior, suffered “multiple lacerations” and investigators “recovered a knife at the crime scene,” police said. Morgan obtained the following

School staff members and emergency technicians attempted “life-saving measures,” according to Milford Police Chief Keith Mello, but Sanchez was pronounced dead at Bridgeport Hospital at 7:43 a.m.

Addressing reporters on Friday, the police chief didn’t provide a motive but said investigators are looking into rumors that the boy was angry because Sanchez had declined to go to the prom with him.

The prom, scheduled for Friday night, was postponed. All students were sent home, and Milford Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Feser said counseling services will be available to them throughout the weekend.

The slain girl’s cousin, Edward Kovac, read a statement from her family lamenting what they called an “unprovoked attack” that ended the life of a young woman who had “her future at her fingertips.”

“Maren should be celebrating at her prom this evening, with her friends and classmates,” the family said, via Kovac. “Instead, we are mourning her death, and we are trying as a community to understand this senseless loss of life.”

The family statement recalled other cases of school violence, saying “we can never forget the lessons … from this” and other incidents. One of those incidents happened about 22 miles away, in December 2012 in Newtown, when a lone gunman shot his mother to death, then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life.

“We need to ensure that more young children are protected from violent attacks at school,” the family said.

READ MORE: Teaching teens to be active bystanders

CNN’s Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.