2018-01-28 19:43:30 UTC
Killings In Kentucky Latest In String of School Shootings -- 11 So Far
by Alan Blinder and Daniel Victor
Jan. 24, 2018
ATLANTA — On Tuesday, it was a high school in small-town Kentucky. On
Monday, a school cafeteria outside Dallas and a charter-school parking
lot in New Orleans.
And before that, a school bus in Iowa, a college campus in Southern
a high school in Pierce County, near Seattle
Gunfire ringing out in U.S. schools used to be rare and shocking. Now it
seems to happen all the time.
The scene in Benton, Kentucky, on Tuesday was the worst so far in 2018:
Two 15-year-old students were killed and 17 more people were injured.
It was one of at least 11 shootings involving school property recorded
since Jan. 1, and roughly the 50th of the academic year.
Researchers and gun-control advocates say that since 2013, they have
logged school shootings at a rate of about one a week.
"We have absolutely become numb to these kinds of shootings, and I think
that will continue," said Katherine Schweit, a former senior FBI
official and the co-author of a study of 160 active-shooting incidents
in the United States.
Some of the shootings at schools this year were suicides that injured no
one else; some did not result in any injuries at all. But in the years
since the massacres at Columbine High School in Colorado, Virginia Tech
and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, gun-safety
advocates say, all school shootings seem to have lost some of their
capacity to shock.
Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a gun-safety group,
said that was because in 2012 in Newtown, "20 first-graders and six
educators were slaughtered in an elementary school."
"The news cycles are so short right now in America, and there’s a lot
going on," she said. "But you would think that shootings in American
schools would be able to clear away some of that clutter."
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said the gunman who opened fire Tuesday morning
at Marshall County High School in Benton, near the western tip of the
state, was not a man at all, but a 15-year-old student.
The authorities said the student entered the school with a handgun just
before 8 a.m., fired shots that struck 14 people, and set off a panicked
flight in which five more were hurt.
One girl who was shot, Bailey Nicole Holt, died at the scene; a boy,
Preston Ryan Cope, died of his injuries at a hospital.
The suspect, who was not immediately identified, was taken into custody
in "a nonviolent apprehension," Bevin said, and officials said he would
be charged with two counts of murder and several counts of attempted
But the authorities had not yet decided whether to charge the suspect,
who was armed with a pistol, as a juvenile or as an adult.
Of the 17 people injured, five remained in critical condition,
law-enforcement officials said Tuesday night.
The region was scarred about two decades ago by a deadly school shooting
in West Paducah, about a 40-minute drive away. Three people were killed
when a student opened fire into a prayer circle, and five more were injured.
The town of Italy, Texas, is not any bigger than Benton. On Monday, a
15-year-old girl there was hospitalized after she was shot by a
16-year-old classmate, according to local news reports.
That suspect, a boy, was taken into custody by the Ellis County
Sheriff’s Department. The authorities said Tuesday that the victim was
The FBI study that Schweit helped write examined active-shooter episodes
in the United States between 2000 and 2013. It found that nearly
one-quarter of them occurred in educational environments, and they were
on the rise.
In the first half of the study period, federal officials counted 16
active-shooter incidents in educational settings, meaning instances of a
person “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a
confined and populated area.”
In the second half, the number rose to 23. (Many, but not all, of the
school shootings tallied by advocates so far this year meet that
According to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office in
March 2016, 19 states were requiring individual schools to have plans
for how to deal with an active shooter.
Only 12 states required schools to conduct drills, but two-thirds of
school districts reported that they had staged active-shooter exercises.
School-safety experts say steps like the drills are crucial, if
In Kentucky, lawmakers have grappled with how to address the risk of
school shootings. Last year, state legislators considered, but did not
pass, a bill that would have allowed people with concealed-carry permits
to bring weapons on to public-school campuses, where, proponents argue,
they could be used to respond to active shooters.
A similar bill, limited to college campuses and certain other government
buildings, has been introduced this year. It was not immediately clear
how the shooting in Benton might affect the debate in Frankfort, the