Kentucky school shooting kills 2, wounds 13, teen arrested

BENTON, Ky., Jan 23 (Reuters) - A 15-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun just before classes started at his high school in rural western Kentucky on Tuesday, killing two fellow students and wounding 13 other youths before he was arrested, the state's governor and police said.

The shooter, who has not been officially identified, entered a common area at Marshall CountyHigh School in Benton shortly before 8 a.m., pulled out a pistol and began firing at students, witnesses told Kentucky media.

The suspect will be charged with two counts of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder, the Kentucky State Police said. Police have not released a motive for the shooting but said they believed the gunman acted alone.

The bloodshed at the school of nearly 1,150 students in a small farming town was the latest outbreak of gun violence that has become a regular occurrence at schools and college campuses across the United States over the past several years.

Tragedies at schools throughout history
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Tragedies at schools throughout history
Columbine high school students run from the school after gunmen opened fire on terrified students, killing up to 25 people before taking their own lives April 20, police said. Jeff Stone, sheriff of Jefferson County, said the gunmen, students at the school, were found dead in the library on what he called a "suicide mission. GCC/RC

PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 14: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Numerous law enforcement officials continue to investigate the scene.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

School Number One, where the Beslan school hostage crisis and massacre took place on September 1, 2004, when a group of armed terrorists took around 1100 people hostage, including 777 children, demanding an end to the Second Chechen War. On the third day of the standoff, Russian security forces stormed the school. 334 hostages were killed, including 186 children, with hundreds wounded or missing.

(Photo by Alvaro Ybarra Zavala/Edit by Getty Images)

Twenty-seven wooden angel figures are seen placed in a wooded area beside a road near the Sandy Hook Elementary School for the victims of a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut December 16, 2012. Twelve girls, eight boys and six adult women were killed in the shooting on Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW EDUCATION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
On May 21, 1927, after killing his wife, farmer Andrew Kehoe set fire to his own farm. He then destroyed the Bath Consolidated School, killing dozens of people, and then detonated his own dynamite and shrapnel filled car in front of the school, killing himself and several others. In all, 45 people died, most of them children.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)
Virginia Tech students hold candles during a memorial service and candlelight vigil for fallen Virginia Tech police officer Deriek W. Crouse on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia December 9, 2011. A man who fatally shot the Virginia Tech police officer on Thursday apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Virginia State police said on Friday. The incident prompted a lockdown of the campus on Thursday and revived memories of a gunman's 2007 rampage that left 33 people dead in one of the worst shooting incidents in U.S. history. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST EDUCATION CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Students are reunited with families at a staging ground set up at the Roswell Mall following an early morning shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, New Mexico, January 14, 2014. A shooter opened fire at a middle school in New Mexico on Tuesday, seriously wounding at least two teenage students before being taken into custody, police and hospital officials said.

(REUTERS/Mark Wilson/Roswell Daily Record)

Policeman stands guard outside a school where a shooting incident took place in Winnenden March 11, 2009. A 17-year old gunman went on a shooting spree at his former secondary school, the Albertville-Realschule in Winnenden in southwest Germany on Wednesday, killing up to 15 people before dying himself in a shootout with police at the car dealer, authorities said.

(REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

A woman cowers in fear behind a statue while a man lies wounded a few feet away, victim of sniper Charles Whitman. Whitman killed a dozen people firing a rifle from the observation deck of the University of Texas Tower in Austin.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Friends of the late Rebecka Ann Carnes, an Umpqua Community College mass shootings victim, embrace one another in prayer before the start of a memorial service at Riverbend Park to remember the victims of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in nearby Roseburg on October 3, 2015 in Winston, Oregon. On Thursday 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer went on a shooting rampage at the college killing nine people and wounding another nine before killing himself.

(Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Red Lake Senior High School in Red Lake, Minnesota, is shown March 22, 2005. A high school student at Red Lake Senior High School allegedly killed nine people March 21 before turning the gun on himself on the northern Minnesota Indian reservation.

(REUTERS/John Gress)

Police officers walk on Edgewater Drive after a shooting at Oikos University in Oakland, California April 2, 2012. A gunman killed at least three people and wounded others at the private Christian college in Oakland, California, on Monday, and a suspect has been taken into custody, authorities said.

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A man places a rose after lighting candles in front of portraits of the victims of the Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, during a candlelight vigil in Lahore December 19, 2014. At least 132 students and nine staff members were killed on Tuesday when Taliban gunmen broke into the school and opened fire, witnesses said, in the bloodiest massacre the country has seen for years.

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People hold candles alongside wooden crosses during a vigil for the victims of an attack claimed by Al Shabaab insurgents on April 7, 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. 148 people were killed by the militants during the attack on the Garissa University College on April 02, 2015.

(Jennifer Huxta / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Columbine high school shooters Eric Harris (L) and Dylan Klebold appear in this video capture of a surveillance tape released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department in the cafeteria at Columbine High School April 20, 1999 in Littleton, CO during their shooting spree which killed 13 people.

(Photo courtesy of Jefferson County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)

A police officer stands guard at Dunblane primary school, Scotland, shortly after the shooting incident on the premises. The Dunblane school massacre was one of the deadliest mass murders in UK history, when gunman Thomas Hamilton killed sixteen children and one teacher at Dunblane primary school near Stirling, Scotland on 13 March 1996, before killing himself. As a result of the killings, two new Firearms Acts were passed, which effectively made private ownership of handguns illegal in Great Britain.

(Photo by Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Erfurt, GERMANY: FILES - A picture taken 02 May 2002 shows flowers laid down in commemoration for the victims of an amok run in front of the Gutenberg High School in the eastern city of Erfurt. The principal of the school where a former pupil shot 16 people dead and then himself in September 2002 said the US campus massacre had ripped open painful wounds. 'When we see these pictures from Virginia the memories come flooding back,' Christiane Alt, principal of Gutenberg High School, told the mass-selling daily Bild. 'We understand what the people there are going through. It pains us to see that hardly anything is learned from such horrible events.'


Women gather in Nathan Phillips Square to remember the Dec. 6; 1989; slaying of 14 women at University of Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique.

(Photo by Rick Eglinton/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

A combination picture of images taken from a security camera video distributed by the Rio police shows students running from the classroom where gunman Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, 24, opened fire and then Menezes de Oliveira (bottom R) leaving the same classroom inside the Tasso da Silveira school with a gun in his hand, in the Realengo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro April 7, 2011. The gunman killed 11 students in a shooting spree at the school before killing himself, police said.

(REUTERS/Rio Police/Handout)

A man and a boy, relatives of a student killed on Monday, wait near a kindergarten in Shiguan village in the city of Gongyi, central China's Henan province May 8, 2006. Bai Ningyang, a 19-year-old native set fire on Monday to a classroom of a local kindergarten, killing 3 students and wounding another 13 students and a teacher, police said.



The students killed were Bailey Hope, a 15-year-old girl, and Preston Cope, a 15-year-old boy, state police said. Five of the victims were in critical condition, police said, but hospital officials said they expected all those wounded in the incident to survive.

"I see this guy draw from his side and he pulls out a pistol. I didn't even know what was going on. And then it registered. About the time it registered, this guy was sitting here pulling the trigger into all of us," student Bryson Conkwright told TV station WKRN.

"I can hear the gunshots. He was shooting in our group," said Conkwright, showing where a bullet grazed his hand.

Kentucky State Police previously reported that 14 people were shot, including the two who died, but changed that number to 15 late on Tuesday. Apart from those who were shot, five other people were also injured in the chaos, police said. All 20 of the victims were between 14 and 18 years old.

At least one hospitalized student suffered a broken jaw from falling and being trampled while trying to escape, Marshall County prosecutor Jeff Edwards said in a phone interview.

Edwards toured the school, from which he, his wife and their children all graduated, describing signs of the scramble to flee from the gunfire.

Backpacks, cellphones and clothes were strewn in the main area where the shooting occurred, he said.

"When it happened, apparently everyone left everything laying," Edwards said. "It made it real, seeing the disarray."

The deadliest mass shootings in the US since 1900
See Gallery
The deadliest mass shootings in the US since 1900

On October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers below from the windows of his suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. 

As of October 3, at least 59 people are dead and over 500 injured in what became the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. 

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Five Dallas police officers were shot and killed by Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, as they guarded a group of protesters on July 7, 2016.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen opened fire inside Pulse Nightclub, a well-known LGBT club in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and injuring 58. 

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, opened fire on the Umpqua Community College campus in Roseburg, Oregon, killing nine people and wounding nine others before he was shot dead by police on October 1, 2015.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

White supremacist Dylann Roof, 21, opened fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, during a bible study, leaving nine churchgoers dead on June 18, 2015. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Rival motorcycle gangs killed nine at a restaurant in Waco, Texas, on May 18, 2015. More than 190 people are arrested. 

(REUTERS/Waco Police Department/Handout)

Fourteen people were killed and 22 were wounded when married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik attacked a service center for people with developmental disabilities during its holiday party in San Bernadino, California, on Dec. 2, 2015.

(Photo by Barbara Davidson/The Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A college student killed six people, three in his apartment and others on the streets of Isla Vista, California, on May 23, 2014. The mentally ill gunman committed suicide.

(Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A former Navy reservist working as a government contractor killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16, 2013. He was shot dead by police.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza attacked Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and six school staff members.

(Photo by James Keivom/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

A masked gunman killed 12 people and wounded 70 when he opened fire on July 20, 2012, at a midnight premiere of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Denver.

(REUTERS/Evan Semon)

A white supremacist opened fire in the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, on August 6, 2012, killing six people. 

(REUTERS/John Gress)

Then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was the target of an assassination attempt by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona, on Jan. 8, 2011. More than a dozen other people were injured and six people were killed at a public event entitled 'Congress on Your Corner' when a gunman opened fire.

(Photo by James Palka/Getty Images)

U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded 30 in a shooting at Fort Hood military base on November 5, 2009.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

On April 3, 2009, 41-year-old Jiverly Antares Wong killed 13 people inside an immigration center in Binghamton, New York.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On April 16, 2007, gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. 

(Photo by Ted Richardson/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)

A gunman killed five girls in a one-room Amish schoolhouse October 2, 2006, in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. The man entered the school, let the boys go free, tied up the girls and shot them execution-style before killing himself.

(Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Two men, John Allen Muhammad, 41, and Lee Boyd Malvo, 17, ambushed 13 people, killing 10 of them, in sniper-style shootings that terrorized the Washington D.C. area for three weeks in October 2002. Muhammad was executed and Malvo was sentenced to life in prison. 

(Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Columbine High School massacre was perpetrated by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who killed 12 fellow students and one teacher on April 20, 1999.

(Photo via REUTERS/Gary Caskey GCC/HB)

George Hennard killed 23 people and injured 27 others when he attacked Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, on October 16, 1991. 

(Photo by Gaylon Wampler/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

James Huberty, pictured here, shot and killed 21 people and hurt 19 others at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, California, on July 18, 1984. 

(Photo via Getty Images)

Student Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the clock tower at the University of Texas where he shot and killed 13 people after killing his mother and wife on August 1, 1966. 

(Photo via Getty Images)

The Ludlow massacre took place when members of the Colorado National Guard as well as other militiamen shot down 19 striking coal miners in 1914. 

(Photo via the Denver Post via Getty Images)



The school serves Marshall County, which has a population of about 31,000, and the shooting hit the community hard. Churches held vigils on Tuesday night, including the First Christian Church in Benton, where about 150 people gathered for prayers for the victims.

"I don't know how to start healing myself and I don’t know how the students will be able to heal because they will have to be in that school every day," said Alexandra Smith, a former student at the school who attended the church vigil.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin's voice choked with emotion and he paused to collect himself at a news conference earlier on Tuesday where he spoke of the shooting.

"There's no good answer for it," Bevin said.

Bevin said the suspect was apprehended at the school "in a non-violent" manner but did not elaborate.

Students followed training they had recently received from state police in how to respond to such incidents, authorities said, crediting police for arriving on the scene quickly and apprehending the suspect.

Helicopters took five victims, including the boy who later died, to the nearest Level 1 Trauma Center, about 120 miles (190 km) away at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families there," she said.

(Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, N.C., Peter Szekely in New York, Suzannah Gonzales and Chris Kenning in Chicago, Ben Klayman in Detroit and Ian Simpson in Washington; Writing by Steve Gorman and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Peter Cooney and Paul Tait)

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