Knife attack injures 21; suspect in custody
A 16-YEAR-OLD student who police say was armed with two knives went from classroom to classroom yesterday morning, stabbing and slashing 21 students and a security guard in a rampage at Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Pa., outside of Pittsburgh.
Three victims were in "extremely critical condition," said Dan Stevens, Westmoreland County public safety spokesman.
A 17-year-old victim at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian was in critical condition and on life support, said Dr. Louis Alarcon, medical director of trauma surgery. The stab wound to his abdomen was nearly 2 inches wide and deep enough to almost reach his spine.
"It was within millimeters of his heart and aorta," Alarcon said. There was trauma to the victim's liver, diaphragm and major blood vessels. He was speaking but very unstable when he arrived at the hospital, he said.
"He is in critical condition, but we are hopeful," Alarcon said. "We are very optimistic he's going to make it through this."
The victim underwent nearly two hours of surgery to stop his bleeding and likely will need more, Alarcon said.
Police took Alex Hribal into custody shortly after the attacks about 7 a.m., and he will be questioned by an FBI interview specialist, according to Westmoreland County detectives.
Stevens said the students were stabbed in "numerous first-floor classrooms and hallways."
"It's a vast crime scene," the police chief said.
Hribal, of Murrysville, was charged last night with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault. He is being held without bail in the county's juvenile-detention center.
In arguing for no bail, District Attorney John Peck said Hribal is a threat to the community and to himself. Peck said Hribal offered no motive and kept repeating that he wanted to die.
Hribal's attorney, Pat Tomassey, said his parents, Harold and Christine Hribal, are puzzled by his behavior. Tomassey said he would seek a delay in proceedings to get a psychiatric evaluation and try to have the case moved to juvenile court.
Hribal was taken from the Murrysville police station in a car at 10:20 a.m. to a hospital for treatment of hand wounds, detectives said. He returned about two hours later wearing a hospital gown.
Authorities have not determined a motive, Stevens said.
The district of about 3,600 students and a staff of nearly 400 has 130 security cameras in its five schools but no metal detectors.
When police arrived at the high school about 7:15 a.m., they found multiple victims on the grass and a male security guard with an abdominal wound inside, Murrysville Police Chief Tom Seefeld said.
The security guard scuffled with the suspect, and a vice principal tackled him to help get him in custody, Seefeld said.
As students ran from the building, someone pulled a fire alarm. Seefeld said that helped get students and staff out of the building quickly.
Many of the stab wounds were to the victims' arms and legs and were not life-threatening, Stevens said.
Senior Josiah Wages said he had just arrived at school and went to the cafeteria for breakfast when he heard commotion, then the fire alarm.
"Everybody was just freaking out," he said. "It's been a tough senior year. We've had a lot of fights in school - more than usual - and a suicide this year."