Alex Hribal, the 16-year-old boy who walked into Franklin Regional Senior High School carrying two common kitchen knives and slashed and stabbed 22 different people, has been charged with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault. Thankfully, and seemingly against all odds, none of the victims have died, which is pretty much the only good thing you can say about what happened yesterday, except if you take notice of all the students and adults who tried to protect one another in the 20 minute attack. Authorities say that Alex will be prosecuted as an adult.
At least five students were critically wounded, including a boy whose liver was pierced by a knife thrust that missed his heart and aorta. Others also suffered deep abdominal puncture wounds. There are stories coming out of Pennsylvania today, about heroic kids who stayed with each other, holding each other and applying makeshift tourniquets made out of hoodies to the wounds of their friends. From CNN:
Student Mia Meixner recalled “a commotion behind me,” then saw one boy on top of a freshman, stabbing him.
“And the freshman boy stood up off the ground, and he lifted up his shirt and was gushing blood from his stomach all over,” Meixner told CNN. “It was very terrifying.”
Three students helped this victim, trying to take him to a nurse, according to Meixner. But he wasn’t the only one: Meixner spotted a girl with her arm “gushing blood” and herself offered to help.
A teacher then approached, as did a flood of people running down the hallway screaming, “Get out, run! He has a knife.”
It was then, Meixner recalled, “The teacher said, ‘I’ll take care of her. You can run.'”
This was one of many school staff — from cafeteria workers to aides to administrators — who made helping the wounded a priority even with the danger still on the loose.
Reading the accounts from these kids who said they never expected anything like this to happen to someone they know is heartbreaking. I cannot imagine the sort of fear and confusion that went on in the halls at Franklin Regional Senior High School yesterday, and how these kids and adults will even begin to heal and find hope after an event as horrific as this one. What I also find amazingly difficult to fathom is how the parents of Alex Hribal feel, especially after reading the accounts from neighbors and the family attorney. From The Daily Mail:
He’s a typical young kid. He’s a B+ student. The family is like Ozzie and Harriet. They have dinner together every night,’ said their attorney, Patrick Thomassey.
‘All the students liked him. He wasn’t a loner. He worked well in groups, and this happened. So there’s a reason for it — that’s what I’m saying. And we have to get to the bottom of that,’ the attorney said.
There are also various reports that Alex didn’t fit in well with other students, and according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Alex made a threatening phone call to an upperclassman the night before saying he would “fuck him up.” Police are investigating this allegation, so I am not sure whether or not it is factual, but I do know that the suspect’s parents must be just as devastated as anyone else in this community this morning.
We may never know the reason why Alex did what he did yesterday. We may never know if it was due to bullying, or psychological problems, or from some sort of previous altercation with someone. But we do know that on one of the worst days that any school has ever gone though, teachers, students, security guards, school staff, cafeteria workers and the community did everything they could to help one another, to keep each other safe, to protect each other in the face of terrifying horror.
I hope this community and the family of Alex Hribal can find a way to heal.