By Robin Gericke, Executive Editor
Within two days, two school shootings have shocked their communities. On Jan. 22, a 16-year-old boy was accused of shooting a fellow student at Italy High School in Texas. According to the Chicago Tribune, the boy shot a 15-year-old girl inside the cafeteria. She was airlifted to a Dallas hospital, and the boy fled after being confronted by a school official. He was later arrested on school grounds.
During a news conference, Ellis County Sheriff Chuck Edge reported that the suspect “engaged the victim,” firing several shots from a semi-automatic .380 handgun around 8 a.m. It is unsure how the student obtained the weapon.
Cassie Shook, a junior at the school, told the Associated Press that “this could have been avoidable” and “there were so many signs.” Shook said she brought complaints about the boy to school officials after he allegedly made a “hit list” in eighth grade with her name on it. Shook also said that last year the boy threw a pair of scissors at her friend and later threw a computer against a wall in anger.
Edge said it’s still unknown what charges the boy will face.
The following day, on the morning of Jan. 23, a 15-year-old student opened fire at Marshall County High School in Western Kentucky, marking the first fatal school shooting of 2018. Two students were killed and 17 injured before the police escorted the suspect away in handcuffs. According to TIME, the police disrupted the shooting and they have no reason to suspect anyone else. One student died immediately and another later died in the hospital.
“I blacked out. I couldn’t move. I got up and I tried to run, but I fell. I heard someone hit the ground. It was so close to me,” student Lexie Waymon said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “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. Then I got up and I ran.” Waymon joined other students as they ran to a nearby McDonald’s.
Local business owner Mitchell Garland sheltered students at his nearby business. “They was running and crying and screaming,” he said. “They was just kids running down the highway. They were trying to get out of there.”
Gov. Matt Bevin rushed from Frankfort to Marshall County. He said, “The shooter will be charged with murder and attempted murder.”
“Everyone is just scared. Just terrified for their kids,” Garland said. “We’re a small town and we know a lot of the kids.”
The community recently marked the 20th anniversary of the mass shooting at Heath High School in Paducah, located 30 minutes from Marshall County High School. Michael Carneal, then 14, killed three and injured five students. This shooting occurred two years after the attack at Columbine High School, serving as a catalyst for the commonality of school shootings.