Knife-wielding student injures 21 in Pennsylvania school attack
MURRYSVILLE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - A 16-year-old student wielding two knives went on a stabbing rampage in the hallways of a Pittsburgh-area high school early on Wednesday, injuring 21 people, about half of them seriously, officials said.
The attacker moved stealthily through Franklin Regional High School, stabbing his victims in the torso and slashing arms and faces before anyone realized what was happening, students and officials said. Some of the injured taken to nearby hospitals were in critical condition, doctors said.
Students described a scene of panic, with the school hastily evacuated after a fire alarm was pulled. The unidentified sophomore suspected in the attack was in police custody, said Tom Seefeld, chief of police in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.
The attacker, described by a classmate as a quiet person who kept to himself, started his rampage at around 7:13 a.m. EDT, going along the hallways to several classrooms at the school in Murrysville, 20 miles east of Pittsburgh, officials said.
An armed security officer subdued and arrested the suspect with help from the principal, Seefeld said.
Freshman Josh Frank said he did not initially realize that anyone had been stabbed, but fled when he heard screaming.
"He did it so stealthily that at first no one knew what was happening," Frank said. "We heard a girl scream bloody murder. Then two seniors were running down the hall and we followed them out of the school."
A total of 21 people, most of them 14 to 17 years old, were transported to area hospitals, four by medical helicopters. Several had life-threatening injuries, with nine in critical condition, hospital officials said.
The attacker used a large knife, based on the wounds suffered by at least one of his victims, said a doctor who had operated on a 17-year-old student with a large chest wound.
"Apparently it was a large knife of some sort, because it was a large injury to his abdominal wall and went through his liver, diaphragm and major blood vessels," said Dr. Louis Alarcon of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "Fortunately for this young man, the knife missed his heart and his aorta."
While the United States has seen a number of large-scale school shootings in recent years, most notably the December 2012 massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, mass stabbings are less common.