State

Shooting victim called mother in final moments

A flag outside Marshall County High School in Benton flew at half-staff in January after a 15-year-old student opened fire at the school, killing two teenagers and wounding several others.
A flag outside Marshall County High School in Benton flew at half-staff in January after a 15-year-old student opened fire at the school, killing two teenagers and wounding several others. The Paducah Sun/AP

One of the 15-year-old Marshall County High School students who died in Tuesday’s shooting called her mother in her final moments.

Bailey Holt’s mother, Secret Holt, first tried calling her daughter when she heard about the shooting, but was unable to reach her, she told WKRN in Nashville.

When Bailey called back, she was unable to speak, her mother told WKRN. Bailey died at the school, authorities said, while Preston Cope, also 15, died at a hospital. Fourteen others were shot.

“She called me and all I could hear was voices, chaos in the background. She couldn’t say anything and I tried to call her name over and over and she never responded,” Secret Holt said. “We rushed to the high school, and they wouldn’t let us get through.”

Bailey’s boyfriend, Gage Smock, was shot in the face, according to a relative. His aunt, Debbie Dycus, said on Facebook that Gage was in good spirits and is alert. He held a “Marshall Strong” poster in one social media photo.

The teen suspect in Tuesday’s shooting was in court Thursday for his probable cause detention hearing, according to Assistant County Attorney Jason Darnall.

Darnall said paperwork will be filed by the end of the week to move the case to Marshall County Circuit Court. The prosecution is attempting to charge the 15-year-old as an adult. According to student witnesses, the boy pulled out a gun and fired at students in a large gathering area called the “commons” just before school started.

He discarded the gun after he was done shooting, went to a room in the school and started talking to students “like it was nothing,” a student in the room said.

Two more Marshall County High School student victims have been discharged from Vanderbilt University Medical Center as of Thursday morning, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Vanderbilt had two male patients in its care Thursday. Both were upgraded to stable condition by Thursday night, spokeswoman Kristin Smart said Thursday morning. One of the two is Gage Smock, family members said.

A female patient was released Wednesday afternoon, Smart said. In total, six patients from the high school were sent to Vanderbilt. Preston Cope was the only one that died. He was a member of the Marshall County baseball team and Future Christian Athletes Club, according to his obituary.

Of the students recovering, 14 suffered gunshot wounds. State police said Thursday that seven students had other types of injuries.

"We need to be smarter" about how we protect students and teachers, Gov. Matt Bevin said Thursday, but the solution isn't yet clear. Bevin addressed new school-safety legislation while touring the Recovery For Men Hope Center in Lexington.

Visitation for Bailey and Preston will occur from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Central time Saturday at the Reed Condor Memorial Gymnasium at Marshall County High School. Preston’s funeral is at 3 p.m. Central time Sunday in the gymnasium after additional visitation that starts at 1 p.m.

The funeral for Bailey will be held at 1 p.m. Central time Sunday at Twin Lakes Worship Center in Benton. Collier Funeral Home is handling arrangements for both teens.

Marshall County High School will be back in session Friday for the first time since the shooting. The school district sent an email to parents saying that students, and parents if they choose, can enter the school through the lower lobby gym doors beginning at 7:30 a.m., and everyone will gather for an assembly in the gym at 8 a.m., Paducah television station WPSD reported.

Friday was to be basketball homecoming for Marshall County. The game vs. Paducah Tilghman has been canceled and and homecoming will be rescheduled, a Facebook post by the Marshall County Backboard Club states.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the Big Four Bridge spanning the Ohio River will be lit in orange and blue “in support of the people of Marshall County and the victims of the high school shooting” from Thursday night through the weekend.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, a Lexington Republican, says mental health issues need to be identified "before they end in tragedy." He responded to questions about the Marshall County High School shooting in Western Kentucky after touring the Recovery For

Staff writer Karla Ward contributed to this report. Mike Stunson: 859-231-1324, @mike_stunson

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