By HARRIET WALLACE and KAYLIN JORGE, FOX 17 News
At about 8 a.m. Tuesday, Kentucky State Police said an unidentified 15-year-old student opened gunfire on his peers, fatally striking Bailey Holt, 15, and Preston Ryan Cope, 15. Another 18 students, ranging in age from 14 to 18, were injured, 16 of them from gunshot wounds.
Marshall County, Kentucky, is a small and close-knit community. Some of the students ran from the high school right across the street to DeFew Custom Paint and Body Shop, where the owner took them in and helped them take cover.
The owner says several children filled the parking lot and some came inside. Nearly 1,400 students were inside the school during the shooting.
"You never figure something like that will happen here and you just can’t be too cautious with anything," business owner Jim Defew said. "It’s just a terrible time for everybody in this area.”
Those who didn’t escape were evacuated to North Marshall County Middle School. That’s where parents picked them up and took them home.
Another business owner told The Associated Press that he saw nearly 100 kids running from the shooting.
"They was running and crying and screaming," Mitchell Garland told AP. "They was just kids running down the highway. They were trying to get out of there."
Marshall County High School is about 30 minutes from Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, where a 1997 mass shooting killed three and injured five. Michael Carneal, then 14, opened fire there about two years before the fatal attack at Columbine High School in Colorado, ushering in an era when mass school shootings have become much more common.