Friday Marks 1 Month Since Kentucky School Shooting

Posted at 11:23 AM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 18:52:08-05

Friday marks one month since two students were killed in a shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky.  

Bright signs donning the school colors continue to line the streets of a normally quiet community. 

Residents proudly wear shirts saying “Marshall Strong” as a sign of solidarity and strength. 

“They’re coming together. It’ll just take a while for the healing process,” said Jim DeFew, a business owner across the street from the school. 

He remembers the flock of panicked students rushing to his store for safety that fateful morning.

DeFew has since erected a light display outside his business with the letters “MC” to show his support.

“It’s really neat how the community and the whole state has gotten behind us and it blows my mind,” added DeFew.

On January 23, Kentucky State Police said 15-year-old Gabriel Parker opened fire on students inside the school.

More than a dozen students were injured either by the gunshot or while trying to escape. 

Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both 15-years-old, were killed in the shooting. 

Young witnesses describe the moment as utter chaos as everyone scrambled to safety.

“I just remembered thinking I was never going to see my friends and family but God was telling me I was going to be OK and everything was going to be fine. I was lucky to get out of there, God was watching over all of us,” said Erica Johnson, a MCHS student.

Gage Smock was one of six students flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being shot in the face. 

He was the boyfriend of Holt.

“She was the sweetest and most beautiful person ever,” said Smock.

In his first on-camera interview with NewsChannel 5, Smock showed where the bullet traveled from near the temple to his jaw. 

Cope was also remembered as a beloved baseball player.

Parker’s name was not revealed until he was arraigned in circuit court last week. 

The teen shooting suspect was indicted on two counts of murder and 14 counts of first-degree assault. 

Parker will be tried as an adult. However, Kentucky State Police said he will remain in the custody of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice and will not be lodged as an adult as long as he is underage. 

In the wake of the tragedy, a bill was proposed to allow teachers or staff to carry guns in Kentucky schools. 

SB 103 would allow school boards to assign the role of “school marshals” to teachers or staff and would be able to carry a gun on school property if they have a concealed carry permit. 

“We do need to do a better job of securing our school, period,” Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin told NewsChannel 5. “The qualifications needed and the training needed and the supervision needed to make sure that anybody who would be armed inside of the school has got to be incredibly high. The barrier has got to be high. Simply being a concealed carry license holder is not nearly enough training.”

Bevin added that the commonwealth will pass a legislation “at some point in the months ahead.”

Since the shooting, support could be felt from across the country with countless donations and vigils. 

Most recently, the school district tweeted pictures of cut-out hearts made by Caldwell County students that were taped on to lockers on Valentine’s Day.

Students in Boone County, Kentucky also showed support by delivering hand-painted wooden stars with messages of hope days after the shooting.

Boone County School Board Member Ed Massey told NewsChannel 5 that the stars were a part of the Stars of Hope program with the goal of empowering communities after major tragedies.

"People rally around that because it means we are remembering and we pay homage to those who have suffered, to those who have died, and to those who are suffering,” said Massey. 

One month after the shooting, officials in Marshall County reminded the public they're taking any and all threats against the schools and students seriously.

They have been conducting investigations to look into any potential threats. On Thursday, a sergeant, a School Resource Officer, and a deputy investigated six different reports of threats or comments. These threats were allegedly made by students in the school system.

Six juveniles were charged with second degree terroristic threatening. They were lodged in the Juvenile Detention Center. 

Authorities said they have no reason to believe that any of the threats posed a current danger to any of the schools.

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