Look Back: Tragedy strikes Kentucky high school when student opens fire on classmates


The date was January 23, 2018.  

The place was Marshall County High School. 

Groups of students were waiting in the common area for class to begin. 

Shots rang out just before the morning bell. 

Two students were killed, 14 others were injured. 

Preston Cope and Bailey Holt died that morning. 

Those who escaped went to the nearby middle school to meet their parents.

Bryson Conkwright, a Junior, faced a killer, saw his friends get shot but helped his classmates to safety. 

“it was just unbelievable,” said Conkwright, “like everybody running and we get down there and the door jams. It stops, people can’t get out. So I go through and try to kick the door. It opens after I kick it and everybody’s fleeing out. Then I look to my left and one of my best friends has blood running down his leg.”

Bailey’s parents, Secret and Jason Holt, talked about the heartbreaking moment when they realized their daughter was in terrible trouble.  

“We tried and tried to call her. She didn’t answer. It’s not like her not to answer and text back. And then her phone number – she called me. And all I could hear was voices and chaos in the background. she couldn’t say anything. I tried to call her name over and over, and she never responded.”

The accused shooter was arrested – 15-year-old Gabriel Ross Parker. 

The school became a crime scene for several days. 

At the vigil, the tears flowed.  Hundreds of candles illuminated Mike Miller Park in Marshall County. Groups of students held each other and cried. 

Three days later school was back in session. Parents were allowed to attend classes with their children. It was a hard time for student and teachers. 

Less than two weeks later, metal detector wands and bag checks greeted students as they entered the building.  And more safety changes were to come. 

Walk-through metal detectors were installed for the new school year. Armed School Resource Officers were in the hallways. 

Preston Cope’s parents have vowed to continue their fight to make schools safer. 

Next month will mark one year since the shooting. Plans for a memorial service are still being worked out. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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