A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Prosecutors will seek to have Marshall County High School shooter stand trial as an adult

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

Tight-lipped authorities are releasing few details about the Marshall County High School shooting that killed two 15-year-old students, but local media reports are providing an inside look at Tuesday’s carnage.

WKRN-TV in Nashville had a chilling interview with one of the students in the commons area at Marshall County High School at the time of the shooting.

Prosecutors in Marshall County said Wednesday they will seek to try the alleged juvenile shooter as an adult.

Police are seen escorting an unidentified individual out of Marshall County High School after a shooting there on Tuesday. (Photo by Dominico Caporali)

Bryson Conkwright, a junior at Marshall County High School, told the Nashville television station that he was only a few feet from the gunman when the shooting started.

“I turned around and I see this guy draw from his side, and he pulls out a pistol,” Conkwright said. “I didn’t even know what was going on. I didn’t think much of it. I was just looking at it and then it registered, and about the time it registered, this guy was sitting there pulling trigger on all of us.”

Conkwright told WKRN the shooter appeared lifeless and didn’t think twice about what he was doing.

“You could tell he wasn’t thinking about it,” he said. “He didn’t pause. He didn’t hesitate. He pulled it out and he just did it. He didn’t care. Something happened to him. He was… I don’t get it. Something happened to him that made him want to do that.”

Kentucky State Police now say 20 students were injured in the shooting. Of those, 16 suffered gunshot wounds. Two of the 16 shot – Bailey Holt and Preston Cope – died from their injuries.

KSP Trooper Jody Cash said all the victims were between the ages of 14 and 18. Six of the teens are female and 14 are male.

The shooting scene was chaotic and quiet, a witness told the Associated Press.
“No one screamed,” said 16-year-old Alexandria Caporali in an interview with The Associated Press. “It was almost completely silent as people just ran.”

Caporali was eating breakfast in the cafeteria when she heard a shot, turned and saw the teenager with the gun, the AP reported. She knew him as a quiet boy who played music and always seemed happy. After the first shot, she said he seemed to hesitate, but then he kept shooting.

“It was one right after another — bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” she said, until he ran out of ammunition.

Then he took off running, trying to get away, she said. He was soon apprehended and led away in handcuffs.

Assistant County Attorney Jason Darnall said Wednesday in a press briefing that he and Marshall County prosecutor Jeffrey Edwards are asking the court to certify the alleged shooter as an adult.

A grand jury could hear evidence on Feb. 13, Darnall said. The shooter is charged with two counts of murder and will have a dozen charges of first-degree assault, instead of attempted murder, added at a later date.

Darnall said first-degree assault and attempted murder carry the same penalties.

“As of right now, the better case is first-degree assault,” Darnall said. “That could change.”

Police are at the school processing the scene to make sure all evidence has been collected, he said, before reopening the high school.

Marshall County Schools Superintendent Trent Lovett expressed sympathy for the victims and commended the staff, students and first responders for their heroic actions.

“Several acts of heroism,” Lovett said. “I’m very proud of them.”

Lovett said education experts have advised him of the importance of “getting back to normalcy.”

Lovett said the elementary and middle school would reopen Thursday but the high school would remain closed.

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a message on Wednesday, saying: “These acts of evil & senseless violence must end.”

“We grieve with the people of Kentucky who seek comfort & healing during this moment of heartbreak,” Pence tweeted.

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