Kentucky school shooting victims identified as cops search for motive

Both victims of the Kentucky high school shooting were identified Wednesday as authorities continued to probe for a motive in the spree that injured 18 others.

The number of killed and wounded may have been even higher -- but Marshall County High School students had recently undergone active shooter response training, police said.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders told the Lexington Herald-Leader that students at the Benton school perfectly followed procedure.

“Students at that school did exactly as they were trained,” Sanders said. “The Kentucky State Police has been in this area recently teaching students and faculty how to respond to an active shooter situation. Everybody in that high school reacted appropriately.”

Authorities investigate the scene of fatal school shooting Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018, in Benton, Ky. Kentucky State Police said the suspect was apprehended by a Marshall County deputy. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)

Tuesday's shooting at Marshall County High School killed at least two people and injured 18 others.  (AP)


After the suspected gunman began firing, the school was immediately placed on lockdown and no one was allowed to enter, which was part of the training.

Officials confirmed there was a school law enforcement officer in the building when the shooting transpired.

Family members escort their children out of Marshal North Middle School near Palma, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, after the students where transported from Marshal High School. The students were transported to the middle school to be picked up by family members after a deadly shooting at the high school. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)

Students recalled the incident that occurred early Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.  (AP)

Sheriff Kevin Byers of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office said his department had also hosted a recent training session on what to do in an active shooting situation. Byers said the deputy who apprehended the suspect Tuesday employed some of the tactics taught during the training.

First responders were also praised for their quick response. Sanders said officials arrived at the scene just nine minutes after the first shots were fired.

The shooting unfolded around 8 a.m. Tuesday after a 15-year-old male entered the school with a handgun, officials said. The shooting occurred in the school’s common area, but there were also reports of students shot in the building's tech center.  

Bailey Nicole Holt, 15, died at the scene and Preston Ryan Cope, 15, died later at the Vanderbilt Medical Center. Those injured and killed, all believed to be students, were between 14 to 18 years old.

ky girl dead

Bailey Nicole Holt was one of the two students killed in Tuesday's school shooting.  (Facebook)

The suspect, who has not been identified, was apprehended in a nonviolent way by a Marshall County Sheriff’s Office deputy. He will be charged with two counts of murder and several counts of attempted murder. Marshall County Attorney Jeff Edwards said he will request the suspect be tried as an adult. The teen was being held at a regional juvenile jail in Paducah, Ky., about a half-hour away in the western part of the state. The shooter’s motive was not immediately clear.


State police said a counseling center would be open at the Pepsi Bottling Plant in Benton Wednesday and a family resources center was also set up at the Kentucky Agriculture Extension Office in the city.

The shooting was under investigation by the Kentucky State Police Critical Incident Response Team and local and federal agencies.

UPDATES TO REMOVE NUMBER OF PEOPLE INJURED - Police escort a person, second from right, out of the Marshall County High School after shooting there, Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018, in Benton, Ky.  Gov. Matt Bevin said two people were killed numerous others were injured in the shooting. (Dominico Caporali via AP)

Police escort a person from the school. It was not immediately clear if the boy was the gunman.  (AP)

Police asked anyone with information to contact authorities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.