Preston Cope, a 15-year-old boy remembered for his positive outlook on life and love of baseball, was identified as one of the two students who were murdered in a school shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky.
Two students died in the attack, which broke out as they gathered in a commons area of the Kentucky high school. The motive was not yet clear, but 20 students in all were injured in the shooting and its aftermath (15 from gunfire). Authorities say the perpetrator was another student who is also 15-years-old and in custody. The suspect’s name has not been released by authorities.
“These boys spent many years together learning the game of baseball and building a friendship, a brotherhood. Preston Cope was a part of that brotherhood. R.I.P. Preston #sluggersforever,” one friend wrote in tribute to Cope, posting the older photos below:
According to the governor, both of the students who were killed were also 15. Their families have been notified, and the other student who died was identified as Bailey Nicole Holt.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Friend Recalled Preston Cope’s Positive & Inspiring Personality & the Shooting Broke Out in the School’s Commons Area
Friends took to social media to memorialize the lives of Preston Cope and Bailey Holt. Both were remembered as positive personalities. One friend recalled how she never heard “one negative thing come from their mouths.”
“Today on 1-23-18 we lost two of the greatest people I have ever met all because one kid was ‘hurting inside,'” the friend wrote. “…I’m thankful for my injured friends that have stayed strong through their process of healing. Bailey Holt and Preston cope were two great people, I have never heard one negative thing come from their mouths. I’m glad we made the memories we did with each other. It hurts knowing we won’t be able to share the laughs anymore…”
Another friend wrote on Snapchat, “You will be missed buddy, you were always inspiring in weightlifting class always pushing your limits… Preston you was definitely the best friend I’ve ever had you never ever had anything negative to say you was so beyond positive about everything and I’m going to miss you man.”
Police scanner traffic indicates that the shooting was first reported at Marshall County High School around 8 a.m. on January 23. Eyewitness accounts also indicated that the shooting broke out in the commons area of the school. According to CNN, one parent, Misty Green, described how her daughter was in the commons area and “heard the ‘pop, pop, pop’ and initially got down, and then just realized what was going on, so they took out running out of the building as fast as they could.”
2. Preston Cope Died at the Hospital & a Special Needs Student Was Among the Surviving Victims
Preston, suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, was rushed to the hospital with a group of other wounded boys. However, tragically, he died there. Bailey Cope died at the high school. Preston Cope was rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where he later succumbed to his injures, according to CNN.
The other boys with Preston, all ages 15 to 18, were also terribly injured; two others were shot in the head, one in the arm, and one in the chest and abdomen, according to Kentucky.com.
According to the Kentucky State Police:
- Two high school students are dead. “A girl was killed immediately, and a boy died later at a hospital, the governor said, adding that all of the victims are believed to be students,” the television station reported. Those victims were then named as Cope and Holt.
- Twenty high school students were injured. Fourteen victims were male, and six were female. The victims ranged in age from 14 to 18.
- Of the 20, 15 suffered gunshot wounds.
- Three of the students were shot in the head and five were in critical condition, according to CNN
One of the wounded victims was named as Daniel Austin. According to CNN, he is “a 17-year-old special needs student” whose parents “called his cell phone incessantly until someone in the emergency room picked up and said Daniel had been shot.” He was shot in an arm that might need amputation, the cable news network reported.
The details on the mass shooting also came from police scanner traffic and from a tweet from Kentucky’s governor as the tragedy unfolded on January 23, 2018. The police scanner traffic described a chaotic scene aftermath, in which law enforcement and first responders tended to multiple victims, students were reported to be hiding in closets and the woods, and frantic parents sought information. Authorities have not released the names of the suspect or any victims, nor have they provided any details on motive.
The active shooter situation unfolded at the Marshall County High School in the town of 4,500 with reports that a shooter quickly in custody. The law enforcement response to the scene lasted hours.
3. The Shootings Were Random & People Expressed Shock & Grief On Facebook
Authorities say they believe the shootings were random, and the victims were not specifically targeted by the shooter. They have not yet revealed a motive, although they immediately took the gunman into custody.
One woman wrote on Facebook that her nephew was safe, as frantic family members sought news of loved ones. “Prayers for Marshall County high school! My nephew… is safe and sound! Had to talk to him and hear his voice and tell him I love him. Prayers for all the children and staff, prayers for the injured,” she wrote.
A student tweeted, ““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.”
4. Students Hid in Closets & the Woods to Escape the Shooter
According to the scanner traffic, there was a report of several students hiding in the woods. “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,” wrote one person on Twitter. Those who were injured have a long road ahead of them.
“It’s crazy how you go from laughing with your friends to hearing several gun shots back to back in the next hallway. No one knows what to do we all just look at each other waiting for someone else to say something. What feels like hours we locked ourself in a tiny room while hearing our friends scream. But all we know to do is hide and stay quiet. I feel terrible for the kids that could not get in a room and had to keep running while scared for their lives. I feel terrible for Bailey Holt and Preston Cope,” wrote one student on Facebook.
A relative of another male student who was injured wrote on Facebook that he was “stable. He was shot through his right cheek bone just beneath his eye and it passed through his left ear. It’s going to be a couple of days before surgery due to swelling. He has a long road ahead but we will be right there with him. Please just continue to pray for him and the other families as well.”
You can listen to an archive of the police scanner audio here:
Police said on the scanner that one parent had called them to report that her daughter was hiding in a closet and wouldn’t come out until police retrieved her. In another account, police said on the scanner that a student was having a panic attack.
Another woman wrote on Facebook: “This is my high school. I feel devastated. MCHS is a beautiful, rural community that puts all of its focus and love onto the county high school and no matter how far from home I wander, I will always and forever be a Marshall County Marshal. My heart goes out to my western Kentucky family. We stand with you.”
5. Videos Showed the Chaos & Fear Outside the School
Some videos have emerged that show the aftermath of the scene at the Kentucky School shooting in Benton. The video above was posted on social media and features a man describing eyewitness accounts. In it, a student describes being in the commons area of the school when gunfire broke out. She said that one of her friends was shot. “I’m just startled. I’m trying to gather myself that this is actually happening,” she said.
“I was talking to one of my buddies in the commons, and he was shot in the chest,” said another student in the video. Witnesses said personal items were scattered throughout the school’s campus, such as gym bags. Another witness described multiple students fleeing the school.
“As of right now, all patients have been transported that we’re aware of,” police said in the live scanner traffic. You can listen to it here.
According to the scanner traffic, one victim had a shot to the torso and one had a graze wound. The governor provided some details on Twitter, writing, “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…”