Two people are dead and 18 others wounded and injured Tuesday when, authorities say, a 15-year-old student opened fire inside a Kentucky high school. Witnesses at the school described chaos as students ran from the scene during the nation’s first deadly school shooting of the year.
The incident at Marshall County High School left Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, both 15, dead. Officials said the 15-year-old suspect, who they did not name, has been taken into custody and will be charged with murder and attempted murder. The county attorney said he would seek to have the suspect tried as an adult.
The suspect entered the school at 7:57 a.m. and opened fire with a handgun, officials said. Police were on scene by 8:06 a.m., Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard Sanders said during a press conference.
A student said a friend was standing nearby when he was shot.
“I was talking to one of my buddies in the commons and he got shot in his chest,” the student said. “We ran out together, but I lost him. I don’t know where he went.”
“Everybody started running and stuff, I saw people getting shoved down, there was a lot of blood everywhere. It was horrible,” one student said.
“Everyone that was in the library, once they saw what was happening, we all started running towards the library office and once we got in there, we just shut the lights off, sat down, locked the doors,” another student told Diaz.
Lexie Waymon, 16, said she was talking with a friend about the school’s next basketball game, makeup and eyelashes when gunshots pierced the air.
“I blacked out. I couldn’t move. I got up and I tried to run, but I fell. I heard someone hit the ground. It was so close to me,” Waymon said. “I just heard it and then I just, everything was black for a good minute. Like, I could not see anything. I just froze and did not know what to do. Then I got up and I ran.”
Waymon did not stop running, not even when she called her mom to tell her what happened. She made it to the McDonald’s, her chest hurting, struggling to breathe. “All I could keep thinking was, ‘I can’t believe this is happening. I cannot believe this is happening,'” she said.
Nearly 100 children ran out of Marshall County High School seeking safety, said Mitchell Garland, who rushed outside of his business when he caught word of the shooting.
“They was running and crying and screaming,” Garland said. “They was just kids running down the highway. They were trying to get out of there.”
Garland said his son, a 16-year-old sophomore, jumped into someone’s car and sped away before joining others inside his business. “Everyone is just scared. Just terrified for their kids,” he said. “We’re a small town and we know a lot of the kids.”
Students were being bused late Tuesday morning to nearby North Marshall Middle School, where parents could pick them up, the Marshall County Tribune-Courier reports.
Barry Mann said his 14-year-old son was one of the students transported away from the scene. “He gave me a call as soon as he run out the door and I didn’t know what was happening to him. It sounded like his heart was in his throat,” he said.
It was chaotic outside the school as parents and students rushed around trying to find each other, said Dusty Kornbacher, who owns a nearby floral shop. “All the parking lots were full with parents and kids hugging each other and crying and nobody really knowing what was going on,” he said.
The Kentucky State Police released the following details regarding the shooting late yesterday:
“The first shots were fired at 7:57 a.m., and the first 911 call was received at 7:59 a.m. There was a Marshall County Sheriff’s Department School Resource Officer on site at the time of the shooting. The suspect, a 15 year old male student, was taken into custody on site in a non-violent apprehension by the Marshall County Sheriff Department. The suspect had used a handgun in the shooting. Twenty people were affected during the shooting, 16 of which suffered gunshot wounds. Of those suffering gunshot wounds, one died at the scene and one died after being flown to Vanderbilt Medical Center. In total, five were transported to Vanderbilt, the others to local hospitals. Victims ranged in age from 14 to 18 years old. Fourteen victims were male, and six were female. Of the four remaining victims at Vanderbilt, three are in critical but stable condition and one is in stable condition. Bailey Nicole Holt, age 15, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Marshall County Coroner. Preston Ryan Cope, age 15, was pronounced dead at Vanderbilt Medical Center. A counseling center will be open at the old Pepsi Bottling Plant at 1531 Highway 641 North, Benton, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. beginning tomorrow. A family resource center has been set up at the Kentucky Agriculture Extension Office at 1533 Mayfield Highway, Benton. The investigation is being led by the Kentucky State Police Critical Incident Response Team (KSP CIRT), with assistance from local and federal agencies.”