Another school tragedy horrified the nation today when 20 people were injured—four of them critically—by a knife-wielding student who went on a rampage at Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, wildly slashing anyone in his path with the two knives he carried.
An adult security guard was the only injured person who wasn’t a student.
The 16-year-old suspect was taken into custody, according to Westmoreland County public safety spokesman Dan Stevens, and was questioned by Murrysville police and Westmoreland County detectives before he was brought to the hospital to treat minor injuries to his hands.
After the 16 year old was treated at the hospital, he was brought back to the police station.
“We don’t know what led up to this,” Murrysville police Chief Thomas Seefeld told reporters.
But freshman Hope Demont said she heard rumors that the assailant called an upperclassman Tuesday night from a restricted number and said, “I’m going to [expletive] you up.”
“We’re checking it out,” Chief Seefeld said when asked about that call.
According to witness accounts, the teen began his attack before the start of classes. After he began stabbing, seemingly indiscriminately, a student pulled a fire alarm. Assistant principal Sam King then tackled the assailant.
One eyewitness, Ian Griffith, an 18-year-old senior, said he walked down the stairs and saw Mr. King talking to the suspect.
Griffith said the student stabbed a school security guard and Mr. King jumped on top of him. Griffith said he then jumped on top of the pair and tried to hold down the suspect’s hands and arms until Mr. King told him to go find an ambulance.
Griffith said when he returned, other staff members were helping to keep the suspect contained.
“I pray and we pray every day that this doesn’t happen in any school,” said District Superintendent Gennaro Piraino. “The actions and response of our staff, students and local law enforcement officers saved many lives.”
Of the injured, four students were flown to hospitals by medical helicopter. Eight victims, all males, were taken to Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville. While seven of those injured were between the ages of 15 and 17, one was an adult, according to Forbes trauma surgeon Christoph Kaufman. Kaufman said the injuries range from “superficial to some quite serious.”
The security guard was wounded in the stomach, the chief said.
Joanne Witkowski, whose 14-year-old nephew was among the stabbing victims, told reporters outside Children’s Hospital that her nephew thought at first that he had been punched by the attacker, whom he didn’t know.
But when he looked down at his shirt and saw blood, she said he collapsed. She said the blade missed his liver and colon, but punctured his lung.
Gracey Evans, a junior from Murrysville who some are calling a hero, said of the assailant, “He was just stabbing everybody that was in his way.”
She said her friend was stabbed in the back and a nearby student was stabbed in the stomach. Evans got paper towels and applied pressure to the other student’s wound for about 10 minutes.
“They told me I was a real hero. I was just freaking out because I was so traumatized,” she said. “I’m still shaking. I was crying. Then the mother of the boy that I helped comes in, and she saw me and she just started crying, and I said to her, ‘I saved your son,’ and she started crying some more.”