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Student kills 2, wounds 6 at Kentucky school

Shooting December 1, 1997
Web posted at: 2:27 p.m. EST (1927 GMT)

WEST PADUCAH, Kentucky (CNN) -- A 14-year-old boy opened fire on an informal prayer gathering in the lobby of a western Kentucky high school Monday, killing two girls and wounding six other students.

The boy, a freshman at Heath High School where the shooting occurred, was taken into custody. His name was not immediately available.

A motive also was unclear but parents who rushed to the school said the boy had made threats in the past. Principal Bill Bond said the gunman apparently had been warning other students of "something big happening" since Friday.

Ben Heady, a student, said the shooter had been watching the prayer group for several days.

Eyewitness Ben Heady describes the aftermath of the shooting
icon 416K/35 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

The youth, wearing ear plugs, pulled out a .22-caliber Lugar handgun at about 7:45 a.m., just before the start of classes, said Bond.

According to the principal, the boy emptied an 11-shot clip into a group of about 35 students but afterward, calmly dropped the weapon and surrendered, saying he was sorry.

"He's a very intelligent young man," Bond said. "He had some minor problems, but he's never been suspended from school."

The boy's pockets contained three more loaded bullet clips, Bond said.

"People were just laying on the ground," said Heady, 17, a senior who was in a nearby hallway when the shots were fired. "People were screaming, running out of the hall."

Eight students -- six girls and two boys between the ages of 14 and 16 -- were taken to hospitals in nearby Paducah. Two of the girls died later.

Heath High School, just west of Paducah, has an enrollment of about 600 students in grades nine through 12. Classes were dismissed for the day at the school and an adjacent middle school.

The Paducah Sun newspaper reported that blood was spattered through the school lobby and the victims' books and clothing were strewn about.

A spokeswoman for the McCracken County, Kentucky sheriff's office said the suspect was being questioned by police in the presence of his attorney.


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