By Gabriella Gerace
A mundane morning at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky became a harrowing scene on Jan. 23 when a 15-year-old male student killed two and seriously injured several more during a shooting spree, according to The New York Times.
The Benton community is mourning the deaths of two students, Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both aged 15. An estimated 18 additional people were injured, according to CNN. It is the deadliest school shooting of 2018 thus far.
Tennessee state police said three students were in critical condition and one student was stable, according to CNN.
Three victims were shot in the head, according to Dr. Oscar Guillamondegui, director of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s intensive care unit.
“We’re just as devastated as anybody would be,” Guillamondegui said, according to CNN. “Luckily, we’re trained and prepared.”
The shooting began in the school’s common area where students were socializing before classes started. Lexie Waymon, 16, was conversing with friends when shots rang out.
“I blacked out. I couldn’t move,” Waymon said, according to CBS. “It was so close to me, I just heard it and then I just, everything was black for a good minute. Like, I could not see anything. I just froze and did not know what to do.”
Waymon and nearly 100 other students fled the school when the shooting began, according to CBS.
“You could see students dropping their bags and just start running, pushing past each other. Everyone in cars started turning around and driving away,” said Taylor Droke, a junior at Marshall County High School, according to CNN.
The mother of one victim, Daniel Austin, a 17-year-old special needs student, thanked those who helped her son. When Daniel was shot in the arm, a student and teacher rushed Daniel to a car and took him to a hospital, according to CNN.
The perpetrator, whose name has not been released due to his age, was arrested at the scene. According to The New York Times, law enforcement officials stated that he would be charged with two counts of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder, but have not determined whether to try the 15-year-old as a juvenile or an adult.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has released a statement on the shooting, according to CNN.
“It is unbelievable that this would happen in a small, close-knit community like Marshall County,” Bevin said. “This is a tremendous tragedy and speaks to the heartbreak present in our communities.”