Two students are dead and several others were injured after a 15-year-old student opened fire Tuesday morning at a high school in Benton, Kentucky, authorities say.
The shooting was first reported about 8 a.m. January 23 at Marshall County High School. Officials said the male suspect was arrested at the scene and taken to a local jail. He will face charges of murder and attempted murder, but has not yet been identified. The two deceased victims, both 15, have been identified as Preston Cope and Bailey Holt.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin told reporters that in total 14 people were shot, including the two victims who were killed, and five others suffered other injuries.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Gunman Walked Into the School With a Handgun & Opened Fire, Authorities Say
Authorities say the gunman walked into the school with a handgun and opened fire.
A student at the school tweeted at 8:18 a.m., “Pray for Marshall County High School, I am a student there and we just had a school shooter, multiple students injured, please pray for us.” Medical air evacuation helicopters evacuated wounded students and took them to Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. CNN’s Bijan Hosseini reports that seven injured people have been medically airlifted from the scene.
In a statement, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, initially confirmed that one person had been killed saying, “Tragic shooting at Marshall County HS…Shooter is in custody, one confirmed fatality, multiple others wounded…Much yet unknown…Please do not speculate or spread hearsay…Let’s let the first responders do their job and be grateful that they are there to do it for us…”
2. One of the Victims Says She Doesn’t Hate the Gunman
Posting on Snapchat, one of the victims in the shooting, Hannah Danae, wrote that she had a bullet in her chest and was about to go into surgery. Danae wrote that she was “praying for everyone affected.” Danae added, “The boy who did this was hurting too. And we can’t hate him. I love you all. Praying for you.”
A special needs student, Daniel Austin, is also among the victims. His mother, Andrea, told CNN that he was shot in the right arm and he might need to have it amputated.
“Teachers love him. Students love him. I don’t think anything can say one bad thing about him,” Andrea Austin told CNN. “And that’s not because I’m his mom. Everybody loves him.”
She said a teacher and a fellow student picked up Daniel, 17, after he was shot and rushed him in a car to the hospital.
3. No Motive Has Been Made Public
The suspect’s identity has not been made public nor has a motive for the attack. The Kentucky State Police said in a statement that the suspect was arrested by a Marshall County deputy. The shooter is a student and acted alone. Authorities do not believe that any of the victims were targeted in the attack. Governor Bevin said that the suspect will be charged with murder and attempted murder.
The West Kentucky Star reports that the parents of students are being asked to stay away from the school while first responders continue to work. Authorities have asked parents and other concerned people to go to the Marshall County Board of Education office. The Marshall County Daily reports that students are being bussed to North Marshall, parents are being asked not to call the board office or dispatch.
A vigil will be held for the victims of the shooting at 6 p.m. at the Briensburg Baptist Church in Benton, Kentucky.
4. Marshall County High School Has Nearly 1,400 Students Enrolled
The town of Benton is located in the extreme south western part of Kentucky, close to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. According to U.S. News & World Report, Marshall County High School is ranked 37th among high schools in Kentucky. Just under 1,400 students are enrolled there with 74 full time teachers on staff.
5. This Is the Second High School Shooting in 24 Hours in the United States
This is the second school shooting in the U.S. in 24 hours after a 16-year-old boy shot a 15-year-old girl in Italy, Texas. Authorities have not named the victim or the suspect in that shooting, reports NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. The station reports that the victim is doing well in a local hospital despite being shot more than once. A student, Cassie Shook, 17, told the Associated Press that the shooting was avoidable as the girl had complained about the suspect to the vice principal on two separate occasions, but nothing was done.
Marshall County High School is 35 miles from Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky. In December 1997, Michael Carneal, 14, opened fire on his fellow students, killing three and wounding five others. It has been speculated that bullying was a possible motive for the shooting added to Carneal suffering from anxiety.