BENTON, Ky. (KT) – The providence of God put the head of the Kentucky Baptist Convention alongside western Kentucky pastors to support families reeling from a shooting that left two students dead and 17 others injured at Marshall County High School.
Paul Chitwood was visiting with pastors from Marshall County when he received word that a 15-year-old boy had opened fire on his classmates.
Chitwood urged Kentucky Baptists to pray for the grieving families, the injured teens and their families, and the students who witnessed the carnage.
“All the children have been traumatized,” Chitwood said. “They saw their friends shot. They had to run for their lives. We need to pray for healing and pray for the community and churches as they come together to minister to the families.”
The shooter, who attended the high school, was arrested by a Marshall County sheriff’s deputy and was in custody. Kentucky State Police Lt. Michael Webb said the shooter would be charged with murder and attempted murder.
Gov. Matt Bevin said a 15-year-old girl died at the school and a 15-year-old boy died later at the hospital.
Twelve victims were treated for gunshot wounds and five others were injured during the incident, Bevin said.
Six of the wounded students were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where Kentucky Baptist Convention President Charles Frazier spent the day ministering to families. Frazier is pastor of Zions Cause Baptist Church in Benton.
Chitwood and other Marshall County pastors spent several hours at a middle school where parents and students were reunited.
“About every kid had a cellphone and had been in touch with their parents,” Chitwood said. “But, even so, talk about tearful reunions, when these kids got out to their parents, it was a very emotional time.”
Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard Sanders said emergency responders were on the scene within 7 minutes of the first 911 call.
Sanders said the school had recently gone through active shooter training. “The students at the school did exactly as they were trained,” he said.
Marshall County is about 30 miles southeast of Heath High School in West Paducah, where a 14-year-old opened fire in 1997, killing three and injuring five others.
Tuesday's tragedy happened just days after the 25th anniversary of a shooting at East Carter High School in eastern Kentucky, where a student shot a teacher and custodian and held his classmates hostage.
“Clearly, this kind of thing can happen anywhere, and I don’t know that there’s a way to stop it,” Chitwood said. “But it was inspiring to see the way the school officials and first responders handled this situation and the way parents reacted under extreme duress.”