Benton, KY – Two students were killed, and 12 others were shot, when a 15-year-old boy went on a shooting rampage at his high school in western Kentucky on Tuesday morning.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin spoke at a press conference with law enforcement on Tuesday afternoon, and said the unnamed shooter had been taken into custody by police in a non-violent manner at Marshal County High School, and would be charged with murder and attempted murder.
A 15-year-old female student was fatally shot and died at the scene, Gov. Bevin said.
A 15-year-old male student was airlifted to a Level One trauma center where he later died.
Four other students with serious bullet wounds were airlifted to Level One trauma centers.
Eight additional students with bullet wounds, and five students with non-gunshot-wound-related injuries were transported to other local and regional hospitals.
Authorities have not released the names of any of the victims, but the governor said the families of the students who were killed in the rampage have been notified.
Bevin did not release the name of the shooter or what motive police believed he may have had.
Lieutenant Michael Webb, public affairs commander for the Kentucky State Police (KSP), said the suspect “was apprehended by the sheriff’s department here on site at the school, thankfully before any more lives could be taken.”
“And the situation was disrupted,” Lt. Webb clarified. “There’s no way to know at this point how much father it would have went.”
KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders said that the 15-year-old suspect entered Marshal County High school at 7:57 a.m. on Tuesday morning with a handgun, and immediately began shooting.
Police received the first 911 call reporting the shooting at 7:59 a.m., he said.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the school at 8:06 a.m., and interrupted the teen killer’s shooting spree.
Commissioner Sanders said students at the high school did as they were trained when the shooting began. He said the state police had recently taught students in the region how to respond to an active shooter situation, and that everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do when the tragedy happened.
CNN reported that Daniel Austin, a 17-year-old special needs student, had been shot in the right arm and was hospitalized.
His arm might need to be amputated, his mother said.
His parents said that after they heard about the shooting at the high school, they called their son’s cell phone repeatedly until finally, somebody in the emergency room answered it, and told them what had happened.
His mother, Andrea Austin, told CNN that a fellow student and a teacher had picked Daniel up after the gunfire stopped, and rushed him to the hospital in a car.
His mother couldn’t believe her son had been shot.
“Teachers love him. Students love him. I don’t think anything can say one bad thing about him,” Andrea Austin said. “And that’s not because I’m his mom. Everybody loves him.”
Shea Thompson, 26, told NBC News that her 15-year-old brother, Shawn, called her from the school in “a complete panic” around 8:02 a.m.
“He was yelling, ‘Someone’s shooting! Someone’s shooting!” Thompson said. “They were busting down the gates and fences just to get out.”
She said her 16-year-old sister, Kristin, told her one of the bullets pierced her friend’s backpack but he was not hurt.
Police did not release any information about what kind of handgun the suspect used, or how much ammunition he brought with him.
The governor thanked law enforcement for their quick and professional response to the incident. And he asked the media and the public to show respect and restraint with the families of those affected.
“It is heartbreaking … I beg of you again, respect the fact that these children belong to this community, and to specific families in this community. And this is a wound that’s going to take a long time to heal. And for some in this community will never fully heal … and I’m asking you please to respect these families,” Bevin said.
“This is an opportunity for Kentucky … to show how these situations can be handled. The respect, the love, the sticking to the facts and allowing the process to proceed … these are the tragic things that happen,” the governor said.
The governor and both law enforcement officials who spoke at the press conference highlighted their need to use extreme caution and discretion in determining what information to release to the public so that they didn’t compromise the future prosecution.
“Everything that is possible to be shared, or is known to be fact, will be shared with you,” Bevin said.
“There’s a lot yet to be done. There are a lot of witnesses to be interviewed,” Commissioner Sanders said.
“This is something that has struck in the heart of Kentucky. It’s not far away – it’s here. It hits home … We have two fifteen year old high school students that have been killed just showing up to go to school, and how tragic that is, it doesn’t get any worse than that,” Lt. Webb said, and ended the press conference without taking any questions.
Police asked that witnesses, or anyone with information, talk with law enforcement before sharing their stories with the media.
The KSP Critical Incident Response Team is investigating the shooting with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Marshal County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), and other law enforcement agencies.