BENTON, Ky. (WKRN) – High school junior Bryson Conkwright was standing right next to the 15-year-old gunman accused of opening fire at Marshall County High School on Tuesday.
Conkwright’s right hand was grazed by a bullet as he stood in shock in the Benton, Kentucky, high school commons area, witnessing his friends fall from gunfire.
“I was four feet away from this guy,” he told News 2. “I turned around and I see this guy draw from his side, and he pulls out a pistol. 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 the trigger [on] us. All of us.”FULL STORY: 2 killed, 17 injured in shooting at Kentucky high school; Student arrested
Conkwright described the scene as “unbelievable,” visibly reeling from the shock and horror he and his classmates witnessed.
“I’m sitting here watching my friends, just innocent friends who wouldn’t hurt a fly, just… ending it,” he said. “I seen one kid on the ground. It was unreal. It was traumatic. I can’t even explain it.”
The high school junior even witnessed his own friend get shot, saying the gunman “looked lifeless” as he fired through the room.
“He didn’t think twice. He walked over there, and a split second later, he started pulling the trigger. One of my friends got shot in the shoulder, and there’s two girls that got shot, which I’m all in the middle of this, really close,” he told News 2.PHOTOS: Shooting at Kentucky high school
He later said of the gunman, “You can tell he wasn’t thinking about it. I mean, he didn’t pause, he didn’t hesitate. He just pulled [the gun] out and he just did it. He didn’t care.”
Conkwright added, “Something happened to him. He was… I don’t get it. Something happened to him that made him want to do that.”
The student told News 2 that as the gunfire erupted, everyone started running, but a door at the end of the room was reportedly jammed. No one could get out for a few moments.
“I go through there and I try to kick the door, and it opens after I kicked it, and everybody’s fleeing out,” he described, later saying, “I told everybody to move and just busted through the door.”
He said everyone was screaming, scrambling to get out. Some of his peers got trampled in the rush for safety.
The junior said the worst part was witnessing his classmate die on the scene.
“The worst part, especially for me, was seeing the kid on the ground that died on scene. That was the hardest part because by then, I had a little bit of time to process what’s going on, and then the other kid, when he died in the hospital, it wasn’t near as hard to process if he had died on scene and I’d seen it, because I have to live with them images now of everything happening. It’s hard,” he concluded.
In total, 19 students were injured. Two of them died. They were identified by state police as Bailey Nicole Holt, who died at the scene, and Preston Ryan Cope, who died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
Twelve others were injured with gunshot wounds, and the remaining 5 were injured while trying to escape.