A small community in Kentucky is mourning the loss of two teenagers after a 15-year-old student opened fire at a crowded high school. People gathered at a church vigil Tuesday night in Benton, about 100 miles northwest of Tennessee, to remember those killed and injured at Marshall County High School.
Bailey Holt and Preston Cope – both 15 years old – died from gunshot wounds. Fourteen other students were shot and four more were injured after they were trampled while trying to escape. This is the latest of at least 11 school shootings in the U.S. since January 1.
The shooting has shaken the close-knit community of less than 5,000 people, reports CBS News’ Adriana Diaz. Authorities haven’t yet identified the shooter or his motive, but the FBI and the ATF are just a few of the law enforcement organizations looking into why a young student walked into a school and opened fire.
“It still doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel like it actually happened,” one student said.
Moments after arriving at school, teenagers were scrambling for cover as their fellow student began shooting.
“It sounded like there was a fight. Someone was hitting on the window. I took out my headphones and turned around and everyone was just broken up,” another student said.
The school immediately went into lockdown, but some students had already fled the grounds.
“I just took off, I started running. You know, was just scared for my life.”
One student went back inside to rescue her friend, who was unharmed.
“She’s my best friend. I mean I can’t lose her. And so we got her and we left,” she said.
Police arrived to the school just seven minutes after the first 911 call. They quickly found the gunman and arrested him.
“He was apprehended by the sheriff’s department here on site at the school, thankfully before any more lives could be taken,” said Lt. Michael Webb of the Kentucky State Police. “There’s no way to know at this point how much farther it would have went.”
Buses evacuated uninjured students to a nearby middle school. Frantic parents raced to the chaotic scene hoping to find their children.
“You don’t think it’s going to happen here you know? Like I said as soon as you hear it, it’s terrifying,” one parent said.
Five of the victims were airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Fifteen-year-old Preston Ryan Cope died at the hospital. Fifteen-year-old Bailey Nicole Holt was killed at the scene.
“This is a wound that is going to take a long time to heal. And for some in this community will never fully heal,” said Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin.
Students say they’ll have trouble returning to the school where their friends were killed.
“There will still be some fear,” a student said. “I can never look at the school the same because I know, you know, what happened.”
There are still four patients at Vanderbilt’s medical center. All are expected to survive. The suspect will be charged with two counts of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder. A county attorney says the suspect will be charged within the next 48 hours, and plans are to try him as an adult.
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