Tuesday: Shooting at Marshall County High School, Two Dead, 18 Injured

Jan 23, 2018

Update:

The Kentucky State Police are now saying that a total of 20 people were injured during the shooting. They say 16 suffered gunshot wounds (Previous reports said 19 total, 14 gunshot wounds).  This number includes two victims who died.

KSP issued a release with the updated total soon after 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday and later offered a clarification regarding the numbers. Of the victims, 14 were male and six were female. The victims ranged between 14 to 18 years of age. Two of the victims died, one on the scene and another after being flown to Vanderbilt Medical Center (see more detail below). Of the four remaining victims at Vanderbilt, three are in critical but stable condition and another is in stable condition. 

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A Tragedy in Marshall County, Community Mourns After School Shooting

Marshall County and the region are in mourning after a shooting that left two teens dead and 18 injured. Nicole Erwin has more on how it unfolded and what people are thinking as police continue to investigate the crime. 

 Sydni Anderson contributed to this report

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A vigil at Impact Church in Marshall County
Credit Sydni Anderson, WKMS

Vigil Tuesday Night

About 70 community members in Marshall County gathered in Impact Church Tuesday night for a prayer vigil in response to the recent shooting at Marshall County High School. Friends and family at Impact Church held candles and prayed for healing. Two unlit candles represented the two students who died: Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope.

Pastor Chris Young said, "“It’s kind of hard to believe that that was happening in our small community. Benton is kind of like Mayberry. We’re a close knit community and not much happens without everybody knowing so it’s just a shock.” He said, “this will be a day we won’t ever forget.”

Church member Charles Collins says his granddaughter was at the school when the shooting began and found refuge in a classroom. He says the community will heal. “As a collective group we’ll come together and we’ll make it.”

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6:30 P.M.:

Kentucky State Police, flanked by state and local officials, held a brief press conference at 6 p.m. Commissioner Rick Sanders reiterated an earlier outline of the events. He said at 7:57 a 15-year-old male student walked into Marshall County High School with a pistol and opened fire, striking 14 people. A total 19 students were injured. Of the 14 who had been shot, two have died. Five students are in critical condition.

The deceased students are 15-year-old Bailey Nicole Holt and 15-year-old Preston Ryan Cope. 

Sanders said the crime scene will be worked on throughout the night. An FBI team has brought in a victims specialist to help with witnesses and others involved. A family resource center is located at the Kentucky Ag Center for witnesses and others involved who may have lost items, including glasses, in the shooting. A counseling center is being set up at the 'old bottling plant' in Benton.

Marshall CSD says both of the places will be open between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. More places will be added if the need arises:

  • Marshall County Extension Office 1933 Mayfield HWY, Benton, KY
  • The Old Pepsi Plant  1531 US HWY 641, Benton, KY

Sanders said the shooting has been difficult for first responders. He noted one of the troopers that arrived on scene said he saw the young woman who had been killed and thought it was his daughter because he had dropped his daughter off at that school earlier in the day and she had a similar description. 

In the question/answer period, Sanders said there was one known weapon involved. He said he would not go into a motive or identify the shooter. The alleged shooter will be charged with two counts of murder and numerous counts of attempted murder, he said. It is unclear at this time if he will be tried as a juvenile or adult. 

Here is the press conference video:

Marshall County Schools Superintendent Trent Lovett sent the following voice message:

Earlier:

Kentucky State Police will host another press conference this evening at 6:00, check back for updates.

Marshall County schools are closed on Wednesday.

In a press conference around noon today, Governor Matt Bevin said two are dead, 14 suffered from gunshot wounds and five suffered other injuries. The two that died were from gunshot wounds. One dead is a 15-year-old female student, who died on the scene. Another 15-year-old died later from his injuries. (This corrects an earlier report that said 19 were injured in addition to the 2 dead. This clarifies that a total of 19 sustained injury, two of which have died from their injuries.)

The alleged shooter was a 15-year-old male student. He was nonviolently apprehended. Bevin said he will be charged with murder and attempted murder. 

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders outlined the morning events. The incident began at 7:57 a.m. when a 15-year-old student armed with a handgun entered the school and started shooting. 911 was contacted soon after. First responders arrived at 8:06 a.m. Students did as they were trained, Sanders said. 

The KSP critical incident response team, FBI and ATF are conducting the investigation and processing the scene currently. There is much work to be done, Sanders said. 

Vanderbilt Update (information courtesy of Nashville Public Radio)

Five victims from the shooting at Marshall County High School were life-flighted today to Vanderbilt Medical Center. Lead Trauma Surgeon Oscar Guillamondegui told Nashville Public Radio the five patients were all male, ranging in age from 15 to 18.

“We had three injuries--gunshot wounds to the head--one did not survive, unfortunately. It was a traumatic injury that was non-survivable to start with,” Guillamondegui said. “We had an injury to the arm which is successfully being treated and the final injury was to the chest and abdomen.”

Guillamondegui said the patient with the chest and abdomen injury has been treated and is “alive and well in the trauma ICU.”

“From our position, I think that all four of them are going to survive,” Guillamondegui said. “Most of the injuries were fairly minor. They’ll have some lumps and bumps along the way but they should be fine.”

He said this is the first mass casualty from a school shooting that Vanderbilt has treated. Chief of Trauma Rick Miller says it’s going to take a long time to for the patients to “heal both physically and mentally.” Vanderbilt is the closest level one trauma center to Benton, Kentucky.

More on this story at Nashville Public Radio.

Earlier:

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is holding a press conference at Noon. Watch the live stream here. Kentucky State Police Detective Jody Cash said one person is in custody and have not had any reason to believe they are looking for anyone else. He would not confirm the identity of the shooter or the status of any of the victims. Cash said specific information will be made known at the Noon conference. 

The roads are backed up to the middle school, some parents have reportedly been waiting since 9:30 to pick up their child. Some vehicles have been abandoned. At the middle school, the high school students are in the cafeteria. Names are being called one at a time from a list of parents who have signed up to pick them up. Parents have to show identification.

A student came out and hugs his parents. Others had been shot right next to him.
Credit Nicole Erwin / WKMS

Marshall CSD has confirmed there was a shooting and that the shooter is in custody. There have been injuries reported and parents are being notified. At least seven have been reported injured. Five victims have been life flighted to Vanderbilt in Nashville. Other students are safe at this time and will be bused to North Middle where they can be picked up. Other schools remain in session. 

Kentucky State Police has confirmed there is one dead. KSP says a Marshall County Deputy apprehended the shooter. The Kentucky Department of Education has deleted their tweet that said a student was dead and now says "one person has died."

There are multiple unconfirmed reports that the shooter is a student.

The Blood River Baptist Association is holding a prayer vigil tonight at 6 at Briensburg Baptist Church. Impact Church is also holding a prayer vigil tonight at 6.

High school students being picked up at the middle school. The middle school is on lockdown. The shooting was at the high school and students were bused here. The line of cars to this school stretches quite far.
Credit Nicole Erwin / WKMS

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued the following statement:

“First, this morning began with reports of a tragedy at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky. State officials have reported at least one confirmed death and several injuries. My staff in western Kentucky is at the high school and is in close contact with local officials. They are monitoring the situation and will be providing me with updates throughout the day.

“I know I speak for communities across my home state in sending prayers of comfort and healing to students, faculty, and everyone affected by this violence. Our hearts are with the entire community in Marshall County. And our gratitude is with the first responders who rush into harm’s way.”

Interviews

Nicole Erwin spoke with 16-year-old Allissa Hubbard said she was in the library next to the commons. "I'm terrified. I've been feeling like I'm going to throw up all day long. It was awful." She said she heard popping noise, like banging on metal. Looking out large windows, she saw the crowd fleeing. She and another girl hid under the stairs in the library, flat on the ground. She said she could hear teachers screaming. "I think someone got shot in the chest and they kept yelling, 'put some pressure on it.'" After the shooter was apprehended, she said one of the principals took students to the tech center.

"I did not see the shooter, but I did see the commons after. It was a disaster. Everyone just dropped their stuff and ran," she said. Students tried to fight the shooter. Hubbard said the student was a band student and that she didn't know him very well. "They called in people who knew him and the entire band went in," she said.  "I'm just terrified for the people who are hurt and I hope people are okay."  

Nicole Erwin spoke with Heather Adams who said her child was evacuated from the high school after the shooting. She said she learned there was a shooting from her mother. She said her son texted her that he was safe and had to run from the shooter and take cover in the tech center. She said she was blocked from entering the high school, but made it to the board office and tried to help other parents. She said she spoke to a woman who was distraught and couldn't find her child. She said it was the shooter's mother, which she said was later confirmed by officials who began speaking with her. Adams said, "I held her hair while she threw up... She needed an ambulance. She was going into shock. And I couldn't get an ambulance there. I got yelled at by the police for calling for an ambulance... We got a firefighter's coat to put on her." Gloria Hollifield said of the shooting: "It was the most frightening thing. I'm 60-some years old and I've never been so damn scared in my entire life." 

Heather Adams and Gloria Hollifield
Credit Nicole Erwin / WKMS

Nicole Erwin spoke with a Marshall Co. High School junior who says he was not yet at the school when the shooting occurred. He said one of his friends was shot. "You just never think it's going to happen to you," he said.

Nicole Erwin spoke with Jennifer Utley, a parent on her way to pick up her son from the middle school. She says her high school student was running late and never made it into the commons area, where the incident allegedly occurred. She said she felt "complete terror," when she learned of the shooting. "I feel that no parent should ever have to go through. I never thought it would come to our home town here. And it has... This is just one of the saddest days I've ever seen in our home town."

Nicole Erwin spoke with Tabitha Kimbro, who said one of her boys told her about the shooting. She said she was shocked when she learned about the shooting. "It shouldn't be this county. It's a small county. It's a close-knit county... Everybody thought the kids would be safe here." She said her child in high school was in the library at the time of the shooting. She said he described a 'big bang' and that everyone started running. Kimbro and her husband Jason are considering homeschooling their kids. 

Taylor Inman spoke a junior at Marshall County High School. The student said she was in the cafeteria when she saw the shooter open fire. She said everyone began running, including the shooter. “A lot of  people starting running to nearby classrooms or to the tech center away from him. And then he ended up running with a lot of people...he dropped his gun and ran too," she said. 


Nicole Erwin spoke with a Marshall County High School student who said active shooter drills at the school helped minimize chaos and emotions during the shooting. 15-year-old freshman Seth Adams was in the cafeteria when the first shots were fired in the commons area of the school.  Adams said without a word he and his friends realized the school was under threat and ran in a direction they assumed was away from the shots. Adams’ teacher was waiting at a door, directing the students inside.
“He turned off the lights, instructed us to go pile into the corner, and told us to stay quiet and text our parents. He stood at the door and watched the hallway for us and made us feel actually really safe until we were sure it was over.” Adams said the school has practiced lockdown drills before, while those typically mimic a scenario where the students are already in their classrooms, he says they followed the training as closely as they could. He says his teacher made him feel safe.

Cars backed up as parents try to get their child from North Marshall Middle School, where they have been bused.
Credit Nicole Erwin / WKMS

Credit Nicole Erwin / WKMS
Credit Nicole Erwin / WKMS
Media gathering at the Board of Education Office. The high school is blocked off.
Credit Taylor Inman, WKMS

Congressman James Comer:

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has tweeted there is one confirmed fatality and multiple others wounded. Reports vary from three to seven people shot. 

Messages of support from other officials:

Earlier:

Multiple agencies are responding to a shooting at Marshall County High School. We have a reporter on the scene. There is currently no word on injuries or fatalities. We have reports of ambulances and police on the scene. 

This story is developing and will be updated throughout the day.