A 15-year-old student opened fire Tuesday at a rural Kentucky high school Tuesday, killing two people and wounding a dozen more, authorities said.
Gov. Matt Bevin said five other people suffered non-shooting injuries in the rampage at Marshall County High School in Benton. He said the suspect was in custody and would be charged with murder and attempted murder.
“This is a wound that will take a long time to heal,” Bevin said. “For some in this community it will never heal.”
The shooting took place in a common area of the school at 7:57 a.m. local time, before classes started, authorities said. The 911 call came in two minutes later. First responders reached the scene at 8:06, and the shooter was taken into custody “in a non-violent apprehension,” Bevin said.
A 15-year-old female student died at the scene and a 15-year-old male student died at a hospital, Bevin said. Marshall County Attorney Jeff Edwards said the scene was unlike anything he previously experienced.
“To walk in, the backpacks laying around. The phones laying around, going off … it’s indescribable,” Edwards said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. It’s not like anything I’ve experienced in my life.”
State Police, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene.
Students were bused from the high school to a nearby middle school. Benton is a town of less than 5,000 people in western Kentucky, about 120 miles northwest of Nashville. At least three of the shooting victims were taken to the hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
“This is a tremendous tragedy and speaks to the heartbreak present in our communities,” Bevin said in a separate statement. “It is unbelievable that this would happen in a small, close-knit community like Marshall County. As there is still much unknown, I encourage people to love on each other at this time. “
Marshall County High School is about 35 miles southeast of Heath High School in West Paducah, where on Dec. 1, 1997, Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of praying students. Carneal, 14, killed three people and wounded five others.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who represents Benton, tweeted condolences to the Marshall community. “My thoughts & prayers go out to the students & faculty at Marshall County High School where there has been a tragic school shooting,” Comer said.
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…
— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) January 23, 2018
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the floor of the Senate that “our hearts are with the entire community of Marshall County.” He and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said they were monitoring reports from the scene and thanked first responders for their efforts.
National PTA President Jim Accomando also expressed condolences, issuing a statement saying families, educators, school administrators, community leaders and elected officials must work together to prevent gun violence in schools and ensure all students can learn in a safe environment.
“Any act of violence at a school or involving children and youth is intolerable,” Accomando said. “And no parent should fear for the safety of their child every time they leave home.”