Marshall County continues to heal after school shooting

Marshall County continues to heal after school shooting
Updated: Mar. 15, 2018 at 4:21 PM CDT
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MARSHALL CO., KY (WFIE) - The first deadly school shooting of the year happened Jan. 23, just outside of the Tri-State, in Marshall County, Kentucky.

Authorities say a student gunned down more than a dozen classmates before the first bell. Two students were killed.

Jackie Monroe visited Marshall County about a month and a half after the shootings, and the echos were still powerful.

One of the stops was at Bad Bob's BBQ, where the supper time back-up is about the only "city traffic" you'll run into.

There, you can find Angie Smith, and if she knows your face, you can bet she probably knows your order too.

"Most the time, all I have to do is see 'em walk-in, and I can pretty much tell you what they're gonna have," said Smith.

She, along with many of her customers, graduated from Marshall County High.

Her daughter is a freshman there right now, and so are a handful of night-time employees.

The morning of the shooting, chaos reigned, even after she checked-on every single one of them.

School Superintendent Trent Lovett is in charge of the 1,400 students.

That morning, he ran into the school against a wave of students rushing out.  Teachers, tending to wounded students, told him the shooter is still loose.

"I looked around. There happened to be a baseball bag there. It had a bat sticking out. I grabbed the bat, and took off down the hallway," said Supt. Lovett.

He and several others fanned out, going deeper into the school.

Outside, student Braden Holland ran for his Jeep. It had a medic kit in the back.

"There was a kid - his legs. One had a bullet hole to his leg and one was messed up in the arm. I ran over there," said Holland.

He didn't get the chance to use that medic kit. A teacher pulled Braden and others into the weightroom building until the shooter could be found.

"It's a block building with steel doors, so it was safe. So the PE teacher was getting students in there as fast as he could, said Supt. Lovett. "A student came up to him and said, 'you DO know the shooter is in this room?!"

"The young man blended in with the rest of the students, and got to a safe room," said Sheriff Kevin Byars.

Sheriff Byars and his deputies would soon learn the P.E. teacher had released one student, and then another, to bring help, because the suspected shooter was in their hiding spot.

"We heard a loud bang on the door, hard knocking. Authorities came in, pointed at the kid, and they took him outside," said Holland.

Gabe Parker, a 16 year-old sophomore, tuba player, and now accused school shooter was arrested.

Classmates Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both just 15, were killed.

Three of the 14 other students who were wounded by gunfire were critically hurt.

The community is now papered in #MarshallStrong yard signs, window paint, marquis messages, and rubber bracelets.
"We've just come together. There's been a lot of people who made shirts and car decals, all kinds of things to show support, " said restaurant worker, Tori Jackson.

In the weeks since the shooting, Superintendent Lovett has been to Frankfort to join school safety strategy hearings.

State Rep. Will Coursey, who is from Marshall County, introduced a bill to add more counselors to public schools.

Sheriff Byars was invited to the White House to meet with the President on school safety.

Marshall County students said they would feel safer adding another school resource officer, adding book bag checks, and metal detector wands.

Administrators made it happen, but one dad says something is still missing.

"Every news agency that I've talked to so far hasn't told the story we've been trying to tell," said Jeff Dysinger. "There's an underlying story most people don't know about.

Dysinger is a complex combination of gratitude and exasperation. The golf-pro had hardly turned on the lights at Benton Golf and Country Club the morning of the shooting, when his wife called him to the Emergency Room.

Their daughter, Hannah, was the second to arrive at the hospital. She had two gun shot wounds. One bullet blew clear through her. The other, found on x-ray, missed her heart by millimeters.

Dysinger praised the emergency response and the work of government officials. He said he's grateful for community professionals and business owners support, but what happened to his daughter after that, stings.

"Three boys brought fireworks on the bus, and threw fireworks," said Dysinger. "Well, gunshot victim! You can imagine how she felt."

Later, Dysinger says a pair of brothers slammed books shut in the seat behind Hannah.

"My daughter turns around like - are you kidding me? And they said, 'oh, we're sorry. We didn't know you were shot by books?!"

After a third incident, Hannah fought back, physically. She served a two day in-school suspension for that.

"Guarantee you, if more of the good kids knew about the bullies, you'd probably see that go down," said Dysinger.

School officials told us they have handeled each of the incidents, and also brought in nationally known crisis speakers.

Back at Bad Bob's BBQ, there's still talk of healing and ways to help it along.

"My daughter, actually, she's in a choir. She's wanting to put together a concert for the students, and dedicate it to the ones injured or who lost their lives," said Smith.

And it's not for any one face, whose dinner order they already know, but to help put a new face on what it means to be "Marshall Strong.

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