BENTON, Ky. (AP) — Someone with a gun opened fire inside a rural Kentucky high school Tuesday morning, killing one person and injuring nine others. Police said a suspect was apprehended and there is no reason to suspect anyone else in the first fatal school shooting of 2018.
Nearly 100 students ran out of Marshall County High School seeking safety, said Mitchell Garland, who rushed outside of his business when he heard about the shooting.
"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."
A half-dozen ambulances and numerous police cars converged on the school. Officers in black fatigues carrying assault rifles showed up as well. Federal authorities responded, and Gov. Matt Bevin ran out of the Capitol to rush to the school. Parents left their cars on both sides of an adjacent road, desperately trying to find their teenagers.
One victim died at the scene, a person is in custody and the Kentucky State Police have no reason to suspect anyone else, Trooper Jody Cash told the Murray Ledger & Times. Authorities released no immediate details on the shooter or motive.
Nine people were injured in the gunfire, which happened in a common area before classes began, according to Brian Roy, the county's former sheriff, who told the Louisville Courier-Journal he had spoken with people at the scene.
Seven victims were taken to hospitals, some by helicopter, Darlene Lynn of Marshall County Emergency Management told WDRB-TV. Four of them were flown about 120 miles (193 kilometers) to Nashville, Tennessee's Vanderbilt University Medical Center, spokeswoman Tavia Smith said.
This was the year's first fatal school shooting, 23 days in to 2018, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, which relies on media reports and other information.
"It is unbelievable that this would happen in a small, close-knit community like Marshall County. As there is still much unknown, I encourage people to love each other," Bevin said in a statement.
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.
Meanwhile, in the small North Texas town of Italy, a 15-year-old girl was recovering Tuesday after police said she was shot by a 16-year-old classmate in her high school cafeteria on Monday, sending dozens of students scrambling for safety.
The scene of Tuesday's shooting was chaotic, with parents and students rushing around trying to find each other, said Dusty Kornbacher, who owns a nearby floral shop.
"All the parking lots were full with parents and kids hugging each other and crying and nobody really knowing what was going on," Kornbacher said.
Barry Mann said his 14-year-old son was put on a bus and taken to another school for him to pick up.
"He gave me a call as soon as he run out the door and I didn't know what was happening to him," he told the AP. "It sounded like his heart was in his throat."
Garland said his son, a 16-year-old sophomore, jumped into someone's car and sped away before reaching his office.
"Everyone is just scared. Just terrified for their kids," Garland said. "We're a small town and we know a lot of the kids."