2 killed, several wounded in Kentucky high school shooting

A shooting took place Tuesday, January 23, 2018, at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, Benton City Clerk Beth Cooper told CNN.


Fourteen people were wounded, two of them fatally, after a shooter opened fire Tuesday morning at Marshall County High School, Gov. Matt Bevin said at a news conference. Another five people sustained other injuries.

A 15-year-old male student was arrested at the scene and will be charged with murder and attempted murder, Bevin said. Marshall County Attorney Jeff Edwards said it’s likely the suspect will be charged as an adult, but his name won’t be released unless he’s indicted.

The slain victims were a boy and a girl, both 15 years old. The girl died at the scene and the boy died at a hospital, State Police Commissioner Richard W. Sanders said. The conditions of the injured students were not immediately known.

Sanders said the suspect, armed with a handgun, walked into the school at 8:57 a.m. ET and started shooting.

‘Mom, there’s been a shooting’

Several parents said their children told them the shooting started in the commons area before classes started, CNN affiliate WSMV reported.

Missy Hufford said her son, Ethan, 15, ran into the gymnasium and out of the building through a side door. Then he called and asked her to pick him up, she said.

“I know when he called me, he said, ‘Mom, there’s been a shooting.’ And I asked him if he was OK, and he said, ‘I’m running,'” WSMV reported.

Parent Misty Green said her daughter, Morgan, also 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.”

“And teachers were grabbing kids up and helping them get into safe places. And helping them get outside and get to a safe location,” Green told WSMV.

Junior Taylor Droke told CNN affiliate WZTV that she and a friend were running late and arrived as students poured out of the school.

“You could see students dropping their bags and just start running, pushing past each other,” she said. “Everyone in cars started turning around and driving away. Kids were jumping the fence around the school and running through the woods.”

Droke said she contacted her mother on Facetime. Then she and her friend gave a ride to some students and loaned them phones to call their parents.

“Everyone just left their bags and ran, so people had no cellphones,” Droke said.

Shot in the arm

Daniel Austin, a 17-year-old special needs student, was hospitalized. His parents called his cell phone incessantly until someone in the emergency room picked up and said Daniel had been shot.

His mother Andrea rushed to the hospital, bewildered as to why this happened.

“Teachers love him. Students love him. I don’t think anything can say one bad thing about him,” Andrea Austin said. “And that’s not because I’m his mom. Everybody loves him.”

Austin said her son was shot in the right arm, which might need to be amputated. She lauded the heroics of a fellow student and a teacher, who quickly scooped up Daniel after the gunfire stopped, rushed him to a car and drove him to a hospital.

Hospital news conference

Five male students were taken to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, about 100 miles away by helicopter.

Three of them were shot in the head, one in the arm and one in the abdomen, Dr. Oscar Guillamondegui, medical director of the trauma intensive care unit, said at a news conference. He didn’t identify the students.

One of the students with a head wound died, but the others are expected to survive, he said.

“There’s never a day you’re prepared to be happy like a moment like this,” Guillamondegui said. “We’re just as devastated as anybody would be. Luckily, we’re trained and prepared.”

2 school shootings in 2 days

The violence in Marshall County, a rural area near the western tip of Kentucky, stunned the governor. Authorities have not provided a possible motive.

“It is unbelievable that this would happen in a small, close-knit community like Marshall County,” Bevin said in a statement. “This is a tremendous tragedy and speaks to the heartbreak present in our communities.”

It also stirred painful memories of the 1997 school shooting that killed three students in West Paducah — just 32 miles from the high school in Benton.

Tuesday’s attack came one day after another school shooting, in Texas.

On Monday, a 15-year-old female student was shot in the city of Italy, officials said. She was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Dallas. The suspect, a 16-year-old male, was “apprehended within minutes,” city officials said.

The motive for that shooting also remains unclear.

A number of churches in the area planned prayer vigils for Tuesday night, reported CNN affiliate WZTV.

Giffords: ‘Devastating news’

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a gunshot wound during a January 2011 assassination attempt, said the Kentucky shooting again demonstrates the need for stronger gun laws.

“The devastating news about the shooting in Kentucky this morning is the latest example, but just yesterday, while the nation’s attention was focused on the government shutdown, school shootings were also reported in Texas and Louisiana,” she said in a statement.

“Our nation has experienced 13 mass shootings already this year, and it’s only January. We will never accept these horrific acts of violence as routine.”