(BENTON, Ky.) — The grieving father of one of the students killed at a Kentucky high school Tuesday morning is calling his son’s death “just senseless.”
Preston Cope, 15, and Bailey Holt, 15, were both killed at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, when a fellow student started shooting. Fourteen others survived gunshot wounds.
“To take a life, take these two lives these families loved … and to take that away from us is so hard,” Cope’s father, Brian Cope, told the Louisville Courier Journal. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
He went on, “If you have children, hold them and squeeze them and tell them you love them every day. … Don’t go to bed without giving them a hug and telling them you love them.”
Preston Cope was a U.S. history buff who loved to read, the Louisville Courier Journal reported, and he was a “hero” to his 11-year-old brother, said his mother, Teresa Cope.
The family is now grateful for “the outpouring of people telling stories about how much he was loved,” Brian Cope said. “It’s such a blessing.”
Teresa Cope added, “Pray for these kids that witnessed this, and their strength, what they endured that day. Enable them to live and go on through this.”
Hours after the shooting, senior Kennadi Spraggs told ABC News that her friend was shot and injured moments after they were chatting in a group before class.
She said she thought the first gunshot was a balloon popping.
“I heard five more, and it was, like, unmistakable,” Spraggs said. “You knew it was about to be really bad. Everyone was just screaming and crying and running and saying, ‘Get down.’ No one knew what to do.”
“I thought that if you get down, there’s a chance that you’ll never get back up,” she added. “I just took off. I ran as fast as I could.”
“There’s so many people who weren’t as lucky as I was to be able to get out,” Spraggs said.
The Kentucky State Police said it finished processing the crime scene at the high school and turned over the property to the school district. Students returned to the high school Friday morning, ABC affiliate WKRN-TV in Nashville reported.
The suspect — a 15-year-old male whose name has not been released — has been charged with two counts of murder. He is also expected to be charged with counts of first-degree assault, officials said.
A closed-door bail hearing was held Thursday in juvenile court, and the teen was ordered detained.
Assistant Marshall County Attorney Jason Darnall will file a motion within the week to move the suspect to adult court, after which there will be a hearing on the issue, he said Thursday.
The funerals for Holt and Preston Cope are both set for Sunday, WKRN-TV reported.
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