BENTON, Ky. (WTVF) — While there has been healing one year after the deadly Marshall County High School shooting, there is still a hint of shock for many.
MCHS Baseball Coach Rob McDonald said his team is learning to move on day by day after one of their own was killed.
Preston Cope, 15, was a sophomore who played for McDonald before he was gunned down by a suspected teen shooter the morning of January 23. Bailey Holt, 15, was the second student killed while several others were injured, including three other baseball players.
“No words can express the horror and terror a lot of kids went through,” McDonald said.
The coach could not help but get emotional when thinking about the legacy Cope left behind. He described the beloved teen as respectful, enthusiastic about baseball and fun.
A sign in the shape of a baseball saying “P5C” posted on the fence of the field is a constant reminder of what happened yet an opportunity to honor the Cope.
“There’s no such thing as a bad day now, if the guy is not feeling real good, you just go turn around and look at the fence and you see his name out there,” McDonald tearfully told NewsChannel 5 via FaceTime.
McDonald expressed the importance of small gestures when something tragic happens. To his surprise, he would pass the experience of coping with a loss a few weeks later to a friend and coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Florida school where 17 students and staff members were shot and killed by a teen gunman.
The hashtag #PlayLikePreston was created to help commemorate the teenager. Being a diehard University of Kentucky Cats fan, the school flew his family out to Orlando for the VRBO Citrus Bowl.
Meanwhile, remembering the shooting brought a flood of memories for Michelle Thompson whose son is a freshman at MCHS.
She heard the helicopters and witnessed students flee to nearby businesses for safety including where she works at Gateway Florist.
She initially did not want her son to go to school following the shooting but slowly felt comfortable.
“Something changed after awhile,” she said. “Everybody grieved and now that the school has come together and there’s a big sense of community.”
The floral shop regularly creates “Marshall Strong” wreaths as a sign of taking care of each other.
The alleged shooter, Gabe Parker, will be tried as an adult and is expected to appear in court in early February.