MURRYSVILLE, PA.: Twenty-two people were wounded when a teenager wielding two 8-inch kitchen knives attacked students Wednesday morning at a suburban Pittsburgh high school. All of the wounded were students with the exception of an adult security guard.
At least five students were critically wounded, including a boy whose liver was pierced by a knife thrust that narrowly missed his heart and aorta, doctors said. Others also suffered deep abdominal puncture wounds.
The suspect, Alex Hribal, 16, a sophomore at Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, was taken into custody after being wrestled to the floor of a school hallway and disarmed by a security guard and a school administrator. The youth was taken to the Murrysville police station, where he was questioned by officers and Westmoreland County detectives before being taken to Westmoreland Hospital for minor injuries to his hands.
After he was treated for his cuts, the suspect, dressed in a hospital gown and handcuffed, was returned to the police station.
On Wednesday evening, Hribal was charged with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault.
He was jailed without bail, and authorities said he would be prosecuted as an adult.
His attorney did not immediately respond to a message for comment.
Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held described Hribal as quiet and said the teen was refusing to talk to authorities.
Murrysville Police Chief Thomas Seefeld said a motive is still unclear.
“Initially, we don’t know what led up to this,” he said.
A Franklin Regional student who said he knows Hribal well, and who arrived at school after the incident had already began, said he was “shocked, surprised. ... I know him pretty well. ... I’ve never seen any anger from him, ever.”
The student, who asked not to be named, called Hribal “sort of a shy person. To me he never seemed like someone who would do anything violent. He never seems very upset or anything of that.”
He said Hribal’s interests include “hockey, video games, things like that. ... He would always share funny photos that he found on Facebook.”
The attacks began before classes started Wednesday morning in a classroom in the school’s science wing when the suspect pulled out two large butcher knives and started slashing and stabbing fellow students, said Mark Drear, vice president of Capital Asset Protection, which provides security guards for the school.
Terrified, the students, some of them wounded, ran from the room with the suspect chasing them down the hallway in a chaotic scene. While running, he stabbed and slashed at other students who had been standing in the hallway, Drear said.
One of the students who realized what was happening pulled a fire alarm to try to evacuate the school. That caused students who were in other classrooms to crowd into the hallway.
When the students who were first attacked reached the end of the hallway they went to a security office and told the security guard there about the student with knives.
The security officer, one of three on duty at the school along with a police officer, could see some of the students were bleeding profusely.
He immediately ran into the hallway where he confronted the suspect, who lunged at him with the knife. The security officer took him to the ground, and assistant principal Sam King jumped in, as well.
A second security guard who had been outside the school and was alerted by students who vacated the building, came onto the scene and joined in the fray.
The three men were able to disarm the suspect as the police officer arrived and handcuffed the attacker.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.