Two students were killed, while a dozen others injured with gunfire which was shot by a 15 year-old student on Tuesday, inside a crowded atrium at his rural Kentucky high school.
“He was determined. He knew what he was doing,” said Alexandria Caporali, who grabbed her stunned friend and ran into a classroom as their classmates hit the floor.
“It was one right after another — bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” she added. “You could see his arm jerking as he was pulling the trigger.”
He kept firing, she said, until he ran out of ammunition and took off running, trying to get away.
Police arrested their suspect moments later, leading him away in handcuffs to be charged with murder and attempted murder.
Authorities did not identify the gunman responsible for the nation’s first fatal school shooting of 2018, nor did they release any details about a motive.
Kentucky State Police Lt. Michael Webb said detectives are looking into his home and background.
“He was apprehended by the sheriff’s department here on site, at the school, thankfully before any more lives could be taken,” Webb said.
Seventeen students were injured, 12 of them hit with bullets and five others hurt in the scramble as hundreds of students fled for their lives from Marshall County High School.
Many jumped into cars, or ran across fields and down the highway, some not stopping until they reached a McDonald’s restaurant more than a mile away.
Parents left their cars on both sides of an adjacent road, desperately trying to find their teenagers.
“No one screamed. It was almost completely silent as people just ran,” said Caporali, 16. She said most students knew what to do because they are drilled throughout the year on how to respond to an active shooter at school.
The two fatalities were 15 years old: Bailey Nicole Holt died at the scene, and Preston Ryan Cope died later at a hospital, Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard Sanders said.
Cope was among six young men flown about 120 miles (193 kilometers) to Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, Tennessee. Sanders said the five others were in critical condition Tuesday night.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and several people in Benton said they couldn’t believe a mass shooting would happen in their small, close-knit town. But many such shootings across the nation have happened in rural communities.