MURRYSVILLE (KDKA/AP) – At least 24 people have been injured in a stabbing at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville.
The attack occurred in crowded hallways just minutes before the start of school.
Westmoreland County updated the victim count late Wednesday evening, saying 24 people had been injured. (21 students stabbed, 1 security guard stabbed, and 2 others injured)
At least five students were critically wounded, including a boy who was on a ventilator after a knife pierced his liver, missing his heart and aorta by only millimeters, doctors said. An injured school officer was discharged.
A school security guard called in the stabbing at 7:13 a.m.
Witnesses said the boy with the knives at first tackled a freshman and stabbed him in the belly, then got up and ran wildly down the hall, slashing other students.
Nate Moore, 15, said he saw the first attack and was going to try to break it up when the boy got up and slashed his face, requiring 11 stitches.
“It was really fast. It felt like he hit me with a wet rag because I felt the blood splash on my face. It spurted up on my forehead,” he said.
The attacker “had the same expression on his face that he has every day, which was the freakiest part,” Moore said. “He wasn’t saying anything. He didn’t have any anger on his face. It was just a blank expression.”
KDKA has confirmed that 16-year-old Alex Hribal is the suspect arrested for the stabbings. He is a sophomore at the high school.
He was transported from the Murrysville Police Department by police car, and reportedly taken to a local hospital for superficial wounds, and then returned.
Hribal has now been charged with four counts of attempted homicide, 21 other counts in knife rampage.
WATCH VIDEO: LATEST ON SUSPECT IN STABBINGS FROM SARAH ARBOGAST
Investigators haven’t determined a motive, but Seefeld said they’re looking into reports of a threatening phone call between the suspect and another student the night before. Seefeld didn’t specify whether the suspect reportedly received or made the call.
Michael Float, an 18-year-old senior, said he had just gotten to school when he saw “blood all over the floor” and smeared on the wall near the main entrance. Then he saw a wounded student.
“He had his shirt pulled up and he was screaming, ‘Help! Help!'” Float said. “He had a stab wound right at the top right of his stomach, blood pouring down.”
Float said he saw a teacher applying pressure to the wound of another student who had been stabbed.
Float said he knew who the suspect was but didn’t know him personally. “I heard he’s a very nice kid. I don’t know what drove him to do it,” Float said.
Jeff Dahlke with the security company who provides security for Franklin Regional High School says the suspect was armed with two knives.
“The alarm went off, and students started rushing outside, the security guard outside rushed in, and came upon his supervisor, and a vice principal who had the suspect in custody on the ground and was trying to control him, and try to get the weapons away from him,” Dahlke said.
Police say that security guard was stabbed in the abdomen.
UPMC Presby says a 17-year-old victim is on life support, and in critical condition. Doctors say it appears a large knife was used in the stabbings, causing damage, but missing the teen’s heart.
Two student victims were in critical condition, according to Dr. Mark Rubino of Forbes Medical Center.
The CEO of Forbes Hospital tells KDKA’s Heather Abraham that one-student applied pressure to an injured classmate, possibly saving student’s life.
WATCH: UPDATE ON VICTIMS TAKEN TO HOSPITAL FROM HEATHER ABRAHAM
Several local hospitals report patients were taken to their hospitals. Here is the breakdown of victims.
–8 at Forbes Hospital
–5 at UPMC East
–4 at UPMC Children’s Hospital
–1 at UPMC Mercy
–1 at UPMC Presby
–1 at Allegheny General Hostpital
VIDEO: Forbes Update On Victims
Five patients had been discharged, including three 15-year-old boys, a 16-year-old girl and an adult, who is believed to be the school officer who suffered only superficial wounds.
Hospital officials say patients range from 15-to-60-years old.
According to a witness, the stabbings happened in the science wing of the building.
“One of the students pulled the alarm, my daughter said, after the incident happened to clear the school. She reported to me it was a 10th grade student,” parent Tim Graham told KDKA.
The chief said someone, possibly a student, pulled a fire alarm after seeing some of the victims being stabbed. Although that created chaos, he said, it also resulted in students running out of the school to safety faster than they might have otherwise.
“The fire alarm being pulled probably assisted with the evacuation of the school and that was a good thing that that was done,” Seefeld said.
Several students tell us that Franklin Regional student Nate Scimio pulled the fire alarm and was stabbed.
Scimio posted this photo on his Instagram account showing him at Children’s Hospital with a stab wound to the arm.
WATCH VIDEO: UPDATE ON VICTIM’S FROM CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Franklin Regional School District says the high school will be closed for the next few days, but the middle school and elementary school will be open tomorrow.
Westmoreland County Public Safety spokesman Dan Stevens said, “We haven’t lost a life. That’s what we have to keep in mind.”
WATCH VIDEO: PARENTS REACT TO STABBINGS
Governor Tom Corbett issued a statement that reads:
“I was shocked and saddened upon learning of the events that occurred this morning as students arrived at Franklin Regional High School. As a parent and grandparent, I can think of nothing more distressing than senseless violence against children. My heart and prayers go out to all the victims and their families.”
“I have directed the Pennsylvania State Police to assist local law enforcement in its investigation in any way possible. Other state resources will be made available to the community, if needed. I assure the citizens of Murrysville that they have the full support of my administration.”
Sen. Bob Casey issued this statement:
“I am stunned by the senseless tragedy at Franklin Regional High School. Our schools should be places where children can learn and grow without fear of violence. I am inspired by the bravery of the school personnel and students, and I am grateful for the heroic work of the first responders, emergency and medical personnel who cared for those injured. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the entire Franklin Regional School District.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also released a statement:
“We are saddened by today’s stabbings at Franklin Regional High School. Our thoughts go out to the injured students and staff, and their families, the other students and teachers at the school, and the Murrysville community at large. Tragedies that strike communities-whether it’s an inner city school or in a suburban school in a quiet town-impact us all. When we send our children to school each day, we expect them to return home safely. Staff and students at every school deserve to work and learn in a safe environment. We will do everything in our power to assist and support the students, school staff, and community of Murrysville in this unsettling time.”
Bishop Lawrence Brandt, of the Greensburg Catholic Diocese, released this statement on the tragedy:
“We all suffer when violence shatters lives. We pray for peace in our homes, our schools, our workplaces and our world. May God hear our prayers, protect our children, and bring strength, peace and hope to all affected by this tragedy.”
A statement from Rep. Tim Murphy said in part: “Our hearts go out to the students of Franklin Regional High School and the families of the entire school district. They are in our prayers tonight.”
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