A 15-year-old male student opened fire at a Kentucky high school Tuesday morning, killing two fellow students and wounding 16 other people before he was captured by a sheriff’s deputy at the scene, authorities said.
Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both 15, were killed in the shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, said Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders at an evening press conference.
Sixteen people were treated for gunshot wounds, including three listed in critical but stable condition at a hospital, Four others suffered non-gunshot-related injuries while trying to escape the violence, according to a statement issued by the Kentucky State Police late Tuesday night. Officials initially reported that 19 people were injured, including 15 with gunshot wounds.
The teen shooter, armed with a handgun, attacked shortly before 8 a.m. local time, authorities said. Holt died at the scene, and Cope was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The gunman, whose identity hasn’t been released, will be charged with two counts of murder and several counts of attempted murder, officials said. He was taken into custody by a sheriff’s deputy without a struggle at the scene. Sanders said he wouldn’t comment on any aspect of the investigation until it was complete, so as not to impair prosecution.
“He was taken into custody is all I can tell you,” Sanders said, responding to a reporter’s question.
Five of the victims were transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Trauma surgeon Dr. Oscar Guillamondegui said one of them died from a gunshot wound to the head. Two others also suffered gunshot wounds to the head and another two had more minor injuries. Those four are expected to survive. The victims ranged in age from 14 to 18.
“It’s sad times for all of us,” Guillamondegui told reporters.
The shooting has shaken the community and the first responders, who were at the scene throughout the day, Sanders said at the Tuesday evening news conference. He noted that the investigation would continue at the school for several days.
“Speaking of the human toll that something like this takes ... in addition to those family members that have lost loved ones, that have had loved ones injured or hurt or traumatized ― we pray for those people ― I also just want to express how difficult this is for first responders,” he said. “One of our first troopers to arrive on the scene saw the young lady who died and thought it was his daughter.”
Marshall County High School is located roughly 120 miles northwest of Nashville. The school serves 1,380 students in grades nine through 12, a representative for the county school district told HuffPost.
Taylor Droke, a junior at the high school, told Fox 17 that she was driving into the parking lot at the time of the shooting. She described a scene of “mass chaos” as students fled the building.
“There’s a guard shack at the entrance of the parking lot and I had just passed the guard when I see a flood of students run out from under the school bus canopy,” Droke told Fox 17. “Then one of the guards in the lot yelled, ‘There’s a shooter’ to everyone.”
“You could see students dropping their bags and just start running, pushing past each other. Everyone in cars started turning around and driving away,” she said. “Kids were jumping the fence around the school and running through the woods.”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) spoke to the pain of the families.
“These children belong to this community, and to specific families in this community,” Bevin said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “And this is a wound that is going to take a long time to heal, and for some in this community, will never fully heal.”
A school district representative declined to comment on whether the high school had metal detectors.
A school resource officer was at the high school when the shooting started, officials said at the Tuesday news conference. Kentucky State Police officers have recently been teaching students and faculty in the area how to respond to an active shooter situation.
The violence on Tuesday was the second U.S. school shooting in two days. A 16-year-old boy shot a 15-year-old girl at Italy High School in Italy, Texas, on Monday. The wounded girl is recovering at a Dallas hospital.
Kentucky politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), also took note of Tuesday’s shooting on social media.
Sebastian Murdock contributed reporting.
This article has been updated with comments from Kentucky officials at a press conference.